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Our Confusing Critics

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To the editors:

I am confused by Albert Williams's review of On the Open Road by Steve Tesich [March 27]. He says that "Tesich's story [is] undermined by Robert Falls's visually spectacular staging" and that "a sensitive, sincere play about suffering is wrecked rather than enhanced by the sheer quality and cost of the production." He concludes, however, that "all On the Open Road offers is a technically slick projection and a glib, preachy script."

So, is On the Open Road "a sensitive, sincere play"; "a glib, preachy script" with "visually spectacular staging"; or "a technically slick projection"? I gather Mr. Williams thinks the play is overproduced. But he implies that lavishing care and resources on a new play in an effort to obtain a production of "sheer quality" is somehow not admirable or desirable. He also infers that the cost of the production was exorbitant without having any facts on which to base that opinion. The truth is that producing a new play demands an intense collaboration among many artists over an extended period of time. The Goodman is dedicated to providing its resources to the full realization of new plays and the visions of our artists.

Mr. Williams is a fine reviewer. But he should clarify his feelings about this play and its production.

Roche Schulfer
Producing Director
The Goodman Theatre

Albert Williams replies:

I think a playwright who is sincere and sensitive about suffering is quite capable of expressing his sentiments in a glib, preachy way. I don't think saying that a slick, expensive-looking production runs counter to the spirit of a script implies that "lavishing care and resources on a new play . . . is somehow not admirable." The Goodman and its artistic leaders are to be defended for putting their best feet forward with top-quality mountings of new, untested work--even when their taste completely fails them.

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