Department of Disingenuous Outrage | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Department of Disingenuous Outrage

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To the editors:

One must really take offense to Reader drama writer Tom Valeo's truly disgusting and completely sick comments on the death of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca as expressed in his review of the Latino Chicago Theater's production of Once Five Years Pass [March 29]. If Valeo was gratified "to learn that Lorca was shot dead," he must have been singularly elated at the equally vile murders of such free thinkers as Socrates and Martin Luther King as well as any other innovative people in between. This very first paragraph of Valeo's review is not only offensive to any intelligent person but especially to the Spanish people who, while they may not agree that all of Lorca's works are masterpieces, consider him a national figure and a voice of change in Spanish theater. Even his worst enemies and greatest detractors never expressed themselves in such poor taste as we see in Valeo's particularly odious language and gutter mentality. Perhaps he would be more at home reviewing Rambo type productions, leaving the legitimate stage to those of higher intellect. Maybe after five years of studying the work of Rick Kogan, Hedy Weiss and Richard Christiansen he might just be ready to give real theater a real try.

His confessed lack of understanding of the work in question comes simply, from what has become typical of Reader staff; they just don't do their homework when dealing with works above their class. Valeo, with this hateful little piece of journalistic trash, joins Achy Obejas as a new member of "The Reader's School for Inept and Untalented Writers." The Reader, however, must be commended as a highly liberal paper that in the great American democratic tradition is even willing to give the less than mediocre a chance. Good thing the paper's free.

Tomas de Utrera

Director General

La Barraca '90

Tom Valeo replies:

I began my review by saying, "It was gratifying to learn that Federico Garcia Lorca, the author of Once Five Years Pass, was shot dead while working on the play's final draft. He was not killed for writing the play--unfortunately. But at least he got what he deserved."

Now, Tomas, which interpretation of that statement makes more sense to you: (a) I am a megalomaniac who believes that playwrights should be executed for writing plays that annoy me. (b) I am using hyperbole to express my exasperation with pretentious, impenetrable plays that are treated with reverence simply because they have been deemed great art.

The correct answer is b, which I thought would be obvious, even to someone with no sense of irony. And even if it wasn't obvious, the above paragraph was soon followed by this: "I shouldn't actually pin all the blame on Garcia Lorca, since his play--inscrutable as it is--has been muddled even further by its Latino Chicago Theater production."

So lighten up. I'm not glad that Garcia Lorca was murdered. I just think that he wrote a stupefying play that has received a lackluster production by an overly ambitious theater company. I found that annoying, but I don't consider it a capital offense. Honest.

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