Man, I am very excited about this week's theater section.
You know how dancers/theater people/artists are always all "Why don't you write about my dance/theater/art?! You're a total jerk for not constantly writing about my dance/theater/art!"?
Then you write about their dance/theater/art—maybe even a few complimentary words about it—and the dancers/theater people/artists send emails that are all "You're a total jerk for not writing about my dance/theater/art the way that I wanted you to write about my dance/theater art."
This kind of correspondence happens all the time. The emails are remarkably similar in tone, vocabulary, and accusations, like the dancers/theater people/artists are cribbing from some indignant-email template they secretly pass around.
You, the critic, are always "being a typical Stranger writer." You're always being "sarcastic" (even when you're not) and "snarky." (A word that has ceased to have any meaning—it almost always translates into "criticism of anything I feel protective of, especially if the criticism is leavened with humor." Nobody ever accuses us of being "snarky" about Republicans... besides the occasional Republican.)
You're always unappreciative of the hard work the dancers/theater people/artists have put into their dance/theater/art. (As if "hard work" = good. It does not.) You are always dead of soul, unable to appreciate the wonderful wonder of their dance/theater/art. Frequently you "lurk in a corner" (even when you're sitting in the middle of the audience), feeling "smug" (even when you're actually feeling happy or farty or wistfully nostalgic), blah blah blah.
This kind of email has typically been a private pleasure* of critics, doomed to the digital dustbin of history. But why should we hide these delightful* little lights under a bushel? After receiving the 456th variation on this email last week, we decided to dress it up for posterity and share it with the rest of you by running it in this week's theater section.
(And maybe now that the old indignant-email template been committed to print, aggrieved dancers/theater people/artists can work up a fresh one.)
The writer of the 456th dance/theater/art complaint is KT Niehoff, a longtime Seattle choreographer whose latest piece was reviewed in last week's theater section.
Her review of our review begins like this (she submitted the piece on the condition that we wouldn't edit it):
OK—let's get this out of the way. Yes, I am KT Niehoff, the creator of A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light, yes, my work was reviewed in The Stranger last week, and yes, the review pissed me off.
I am weary of the quip, sarcastic reflections The Stranger dishes out as art reviewing. As a choreographer in Seattle for 15+ years, I have learned to accept the Stranger reviewer lurking in the corner with a mind-made-up-before-I-even-showed-up energy. It makes me want to scream, "Allow yourself to have an experience!" But I have not done my part either. I have embodied that desperate artist hoping someone will care enough about the work to deem it worthy of writing about. And I have been silenced by this power. I'm done. It's time to review the reviewer.
Within mere minutes of going online, a few anonymous commenters have already chimed in to wholeheartedly agree. I am confident* that they are in no way affiliated with Ms. Niehoff or Glimmer. (Nobody, as yet, has commented on the glowing review of Lauren Weedman's new solo show, which is fucking awesome).
Niehoff's complete excoriation is here. Enjoy.
*That's sarcasm. Just in case you were confused.