I Walked Out of Sgt. Rigsby's New Play, Bury Me Under I-5, Because It Was Boring


Yay! Contrarianism is back! :D
Snarky takedown of overhyped, corporate-subsidized productions is one thing. But there is nothing heroic in snarky takedown of very personal, low-budget productions that some people have invested their heart and soul into. Do your research next time before you attend and if you feel your attenuated attention-span could be exhausted by intermission, stay home.
Sgt. Rigsby is one of the reasons I still live in Seattle. I'll never forget seeing A Boy in the Beastly City long ago (after another round of layoffs), and leaving with a sense that the world was better than I'd known.
What a prick.
You're a bad writer with bad ideas, and this city is cursed to have you writing about its arts, but you did the right thing. Legacy acts need to up their game if they're going to hang on. Twenty or even ten years ago, you could get away with this kind of half-assery, but there's a larger audience now and plenty of vital new artists who could be using that stage space. I bet dollars to cronuts, they tapped into some 4Culture money too. It's a total good old boys network. Walk out of the next one too or, better, don't go. And @2, spare me the "heart and soul" shit. If the heart is weak and the soul is withered, why should anyone care? Maybe they should take participation trophies at the door instead of tickets.
Thanks for making theater criticism interesting.
@5 -- Exactly why are you dragging 4Culture into this? You don't have to make any bets, you can find out pretty easily. You can first go here:


-- and look up all of the Arts Projects (or any other 4Culture grant program) for the past three years, and you'll find out that Scot Augustson hasn't gotten any grants in that time. If you want to dig further, you can just call them up, because they're a public agency and their funding records are publicly available -- and I just did that: Scot Augustson received one grant from 4Culture for $3,000 in 2010 (for "Where the River Styx Meets Route 66"...which I think was not the final title of that show, but I'll let you look that up). $3,000, in a theater career of around 25 years! Scot must have tossed that all over his bed and rolled around in it!

"It's a total good old boys network" -- I'd like you to describe 4Culture's funding process, because I suspect you don't know shit about it. It's about as far from an old boy's network as one could imagine. I've been on a couple of panels for 4Culture over the years and they are thoughtful, rigorous, and involve a wide variety of artists, varied in discipline, ethnicity, age, geographic location, etc. Take a look at the awards through that link above; you'll see awards going to a very diverse body of artists and arts organizations.

And -- just to demonstrate that you're a complete ignoramus -- twenty or even ten years the fringe theater scene was a lot more robust than it is now, when rising real estate prices have been the death of many theater spaces and streaming services and games have made getting people out of their homes at night vastly more difficult.
And: FOR FUCK'S SAKE, sitting through the entirety of a show is the bare minimum of your obligations as a theater reviewer. Can a doctor just decide he's bored with some routine surgery? Can a ditch digger abandon a ditch halfway through? Do your fucking job, Rich Smith.

And if you don't like your fucking job, quit.
That you didn't like it is one thing, but that you didn't do the work to try and understand and critique the piece on its own terms is inexcusably bad reporting.
Beyond cavalier and snarky. This is negligent and irresponsible.
If the writer can't do their job they shouldn't be paid a penny.
Let Rich buy a margarita with money he actually earns!
You’re too busy TO DO YOUR JOB?! Why bother submitting this half assed review? The Rigsby shows have a lot of words and clever writing. You could learn something. They aren’t for dumbasses.
One more reason I haven't picked up The Stranger in years. What pathetic writers on staff, can't even be bothered to research or ... watch the show they review? Lazy lazy lazy. Seattle deserves much better. Augustson's work is a bright light in this dark town of craptastic bus shows. Here's hoping someone's dick gets stuck in the revolving door of "talent" that is Seattle's Only Newspaper.
"But I'm fucking busy."

Sure you are. Doing important writer things, no doubt. Why, we're lucky you took the three minutes out of your busy, busy schedule to even write this.

Did you rush home to work on your novel? Can't wait to read it.
It's your fucking job, Rich. You can't be too busy to do your fucking job.

As an audience member, I've walked out. But I'm not a reviewer. Frankly, after this, I'm not sure you are either.
I read half of your boring, ignorant review and decided that instead of reading the rest of it, I’d go write a Facebook post about what a farce it is to call someone who can’t sit through a whole show a “theater critic.”
Doesn't wayang-kulit take, like, a day or two to play out the whole performance?

It's two-dimensional, too. Perhaps Mister Smith , if he's not too busy, could offer us a dismissive critique of that ancient and beloved art form (where mind-wandering and boredom are incorporated into the performance ethic and appreciation thereof)
Wow how did you get this job? You have real ignorance of the history of Seattle Theater. To write such a dismissive, cruel, nasty article about an artist that is so adored. I mean if he had a bad show fine but dear GOD. You’re just a huge DICK. You’re fucking with your own karma. I expect bad things will start happening to you. This will be hard to escape. Maybe just quit.
I stopped reading your review half way through because it was boring. How long have you been writing reviews for the stranger? A Stranger facebook post shows you've been a staff writer for two and a half Years. Two. And a Half. Years.

I wish the ruthlessness of capitalism on no publication, but I wish the market would have somehow banished Rich Smith & His Amazing Shittyness into printing obsolescence before they started letting him write full-length reviews.

The ignorance of this "review" is only surpassed by its cruelty. I love the Sgt Rigsby shows. They are witty and creative, and I imagine you were bored because the jokes flew over your staggeringly low IQ. You have callously, brutally humiliated smart, kind, hard-working artists who do this for love, not for profit. For what purpose? For clickbait titles? Or so you can lick the wounds of your underused MFA, bashing actual artists while your only contribution is sitting in the dark, watching them work hard, feeling rightfully insignificant? Or was it just for the thrill of acting superior while NOT DOING YOUR JOB. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all just leave part way through our work day and act like contrarian heroes while not concerning ourselves with the feelings of other human beings?

Your "article" is bad and you should feel bad.
Isn’t sitting through the entire thing your job? Or did you stop reading this halfw
I used to read The Stranger regularly to know what to see and do in town. This steaming pile of shite is exactly why I stopped. Maybe do your job and care more about thoughtful analysis than being an edgy dickhead? Because of things just like this, I stopped reading The Stranger. Don't read it in print, not online. No ads are seen by me. Only came here this time cause someone told me about this fetid, seeping sack of septic waste and it pissed me off. Take note advertisers: Your money is better spent with other sites and papers that do their job well, or at least do it at all.
To everyone complaining that he didn't do his job--the last time I checked, a critic's only job is to give an opinion.

Which he clearly did.

Y'all just disagree with it.
No, a critic's job is to respond to the whole work and and put it in context. (To HAVE the goddamn context to put it in, first of all, and then to put it there. Scot Augustson won a Genius award from this very paper for good reason.) It's obviously fine to not like a show, but do your fucking work and then show it.

That Rich Smith got paid for this shat-out scrawl is infuriating. People are struggling in this town and this motherfucker is collecting a paycheck and doesn't even want to do the minimum work to earn it.

If end times are keeping him from doing his job, he should quit and set us all free.

I remember when Scot Augustson had this job, by the way. He was good at it.
@21: He didn't even see the whole show, so how can he opine on it?
@21 part 2: Point of order. A critics job isn't just to shit out whatever lazy, arrogant opinion strikes their sophomoric mind in the moment. A critics job is to ANALYZE a play. That requires a critic to 1) See the whole thing; 2) Understand the contextual placement of the art and artist(s); 3) Ask, "what is this play trying to do/say"; 4) Ask, "Does the play achieve its own goals"; 5) Ask, "are the goals worth achieving"; 6) And then, lastly, offer an opinion on whether the play appeals to the critic's very subjective personal tastes. And Rich Smith only did #6, skipping everything else, and pronounced that opinion as if it were an unquestionable, objective truth, which sort of misses the point of step 6.
@21 part 3: If you had better reading comprehension, you would see people don't just disagree with his opinion, they are offended by the laziness of leaving halfway through and by the mean spirited snark of the whole piece. If a critic's role were simplified to your rudimentary formula, there would still be no need to "give an opinion" in such a cruel, sadistic, dehumanizing way.
Please do you job and watch the play, then commit on oh weather you liked it or not. Your boss should fire you for this pile of shit review.
"But I'm fuckin' busy" -- did you have to run off and cover the second half of another play?
It is the way of The Stranger for the theatre reviewers to make the reviews about themselves. I was once in a show that was reviewed by Mudede and most of the review was him going on about the science of Ayerveda because he ate the wrong dinner for his body type and that was why the review we were about to read might not be very good. Tamara Paris LOVED to be cleverly shitty, and especially to female artists. Kiley at one point obviously just started hating Theatre. You can tell because his investigative journalism was, by contrast, poignant and soaring.

I was once in a show where you, Rich Smith, sat in the second row audibly harrumphing and groaning and slumping and tsk-ing and rolling your eyes at the actors, shaking your head while scribbling notes-putting on your own little show. It’s clear that you came up with the rude little title for this review and then patted your own back all the way to the bar about how justified you are in your rudeness. It’s a tradition, after all.
In case anybody wishes to understand exactly the kind of artistic Olympus from whence this review descends, here's Rich's professional poetry and video: https://richsmithpoetry.com/poems/
Rich, I like your writing, but to walk out, and then review, especially for an artist of such note, and then admit it, in print, comes off as entitled and reads as if you're trying to impress a date. I know writers don't get paid what you are worth, but, geez....cause ya just never know... Respect your power. You have a lot!
Dear Publisher of The Stranger,

It’s time for you to grow up. Not Rich Smith. You.

The job of a theatre reviewer is to see the show and then write a review. Doing half of the job isn’t doing the job. The job of a newspaper publisher is manifold, but the responsibilities definitely include making sure the newspaper’s employees are doing their jobs. Allowing your writer to disrespect an entire segment of the city’s cultural community without consequences also isn’t doing the job. That doesn't mean he has to like everything. But he does have to see things in their entirety if he wants his opinion to be taken seriously.

Back in the 1990’s when The Stranger developed its “too snarky for my shirt” sensibility, the consequences of being flighty in Seattle were survivable. Today, if you don’t hold down at least one job (or frequently, two or three), you can’t pay your rent. If I did only half of my job and publicly flaunted it, I would be out of a job. That’s true for just about everyone, from baristas to software engineers. Unless you’re somehow self-funded, you have to follow some basic rules. That’s called being a grown-up.

Rich Smith attended half of a play. He was bored, so he left, and then he wrote an article about how bored he was. He didn’t stick around until it was time to clock out, he just left. And yet he still has his job.

I don’t blame Rich Smith for behaving like the Jared Kushner of Seattle, an entitled rich boy for whom the rules don’t matter. I put that on the people who write his paycheck and don’t call him to account. That’s you. (I do blame Rich Smith for howlers like "The theater community has allowed this boring thing to persist". Huh, no. Scot Augustson's puppet shows have "persisted" for 20 years or so because they have an enthusiastic, adoring audience. Is it somehow up to the "journalism community" to allow The Stranger to "persist"? But I digress.)

Time’s up. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ll need to start acting like an adult. Move out of your parents’ basement. Do the job. And if one of your employees repeatedly and publicly declares that he’s too busy and too bored to follow the basic rules of adult, grown-up existence, well… you know what you have to do, because you're the one who has to pay the bills.
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

--John Berryman
Like many of these commenters, I have a personal affinity for Sgt Rigsby , and for the rest of the theatre community. Many people have said that no one but theatre people read theatre reviews, and if that’s the case mr Smith has shown VERY clearly that he has no respect for the very people who make is job possible. I was angry the first time the editors allowed Mr Smith to brag about hating a show so much, and to allow him to do the same trite review again is lazy all the way around.

The mistake was linking to the article which seems to contradict the main point of this “review”, reading that infinitely better written review just hammered Home the point that a reviewer better serves themselves and their readers by actually investing time in the play which they are seeing for free.

Throw away reviews like this one (and many others by Rich Smith) do a disservice to everyone. If mr Smith is “too busy” to do his job, and if hates theatre and the arts so much, take him off the fucking beat.
I stopped reading this snide, ugly, condescending "review" about four paragraphs in. Is this the Stranger's arts coverage now? Smug writers leaving shows early? Try harder plz.