Editor’s note: This e-mail to Sheila Regan is published, in the interest of fostering dialogue, with permission from both its author and its recipient.
It was great to finally meet in person at the opening of Charley’s Aunt. I just wanted to drop you a quick note in regard to your review.
While I have no issue with your subjective impressions of the show and its level of artistic success, some of your broader commentary feels ill-informed and ultimately unfair. Linking the casting of BFA grads to the collecting of tuition is more than the formulation of a “cynic,” as you put it, it’s actually quite mean-spirited to those performers. A look at the actors’ bios in the program demonstrates a wide variety of experience, both at the Guthrie and at other theaters. You might not like their work in Charley’s Aunt, but to suggest that they are inferior talent being hired solely because of their connection to the BFA program is a straw man argument that is quite denigrating to these individuals.
I have to also take issue with your suggestion that the Guthrie “look elsewhere for talent” in the Twin Cities. In the short time that I’ve been working here, I’ve seen a remarkable number of local actors in a series of shows, many of whom I’m familiar with because I saw them get their start on smaller stages in local companies. Your final paragraph implies a level of insularity that reality doesn’t bear out at all.
As you know, I worked for a number of years as a critic, and over that time I saw productions that elicited reactions in me similar to your take on Charley’s Aunt (I thought they were lousy, in other words). All that a writer has to stand upon, ultimately, is the integrity to express these opinions with substantiation and insight. The line I attempted never to cross, though, was impugning the offstage motivations and agendas of those about whom I was writing. It’s always worth remembering that one is writing about actual people, and not cogs in some imagined monolithic behemoth.
Director of Communications
Photo: Ashley Rose Montondo and Ben Mandelbaum in Charley’s Aunt. Photo by T. Charles Erickson, courtesy Guthrie Theater
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