Department of Misunderstood Thespians | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Department of Misunderstood Thespians

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To the editor:

I have just finished reading Jack Helbig's vitriolic review of our company's current production of Endgame [May 31] and feel that I must respond. Mr. Helbig clearly has the right to believe whatever he likes about our current production, but for him to state that we "never pay attention to what other Chicago theaters are doing and/or never give an iota of thought to audience demand" is patently absurd. Our production of Endgame was first performed, to critical acclaim I might add, as part of a national Beckett festival in Memphis alongside such companies as Mabou Mines. It ran for five weeks there, and because of the fantastic response we received it was decided to revive the production for two weeks at the end of our season. After making the decision and signing a lease, we learned that the Splinter Group would be doing Endgame at the end of their Buckets o' Beckett festival. At that point we had already made the decision to remount the production, and since it was (and is) a production that we were (and are) extremely proud of, we stuck with that decision. Our audience response has been tremendous (even after opening night, Mr. Helbig), and we have already had repeat audiences in our short run.

As I stated previously, Mr. Helbig has every right in the world to dislike (or not understand) our style of performance. I would hope, however, that the Reader would consider employing a critic who was more theatrically literate and less disdainful of differing points of view.

Brad Shelton

Artistic Director

Greasy Joan & Company

PS: You would think that if Mr. Helbig were going to be so openly hostile he would at least try and get his facts straight. The "blind, bullying" character in the play is actually called Hamm, not Clov, and was played by me, not by Karm Kerwell. Since Mr. Helbig had apparently seen the Splinter Group production just a week before he saw ours, it seems to me to be inexcusable to not know who the main character is. If it takes more than two viewings just to get the characters straight, how many times does he need to see it for your readers to have access to an insightful review?

Jack Helbig replies:

I apologize for the name mix-up. Thanks for the correction.

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