Hall directed a play based on Edward Hopper‘s iconic Nighthawks painting. He was inspired by a retrospective of the artist at the Art Institute of Chicago.
What has kept me coming back on a consistent basis is the fact that he does such a great job talking about his process and holding my interest when so many production blogs fail to do so.
So I thought I would direct a little attention his way (though he certainly doesn’t need my help) and point out some of the entries that caught my attention most:
-His discussion of how to make a play written by a group work. He acknowledges writing by committee generally isn’t going to yield anything of quality and talks about working through the conflicts he had with people who didn’t agree with his cuts. (And here is a reposting of Time Out Chicago preview piece he inserts into his blog later in which his process is described less charitably. To his glee, it seems.)
-Post about the start of rehearsal
One of the interesting things he does is reposts all the reviews of the work, starting on January 19 (if you followed the link to all the Hopper entries, just scroll up and start reading upward from the review by Joe Stead.) He then reflects, pretty fair and honestly for the guy who directed it, about the review, further discussing what his aims had been.
He acknowledges why some people may find the show difficult or dislike the style in which the show was presented. He says as much in response to one of the first reviews
“I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a sigh of relief that someone appreciated the fractured narrative structure and found it “consistent with the mystique evoked by Hopper.”
His review of reviews illuminates in one place the truth that you shouldn’t attempt to gear your show toward pleasing critics. What each seemed to think he lacked contradicted at least one other reviewer.
-One of the entries I loved the most since I have never heard of anyone else even trying to experience their show in this manner is the entry where he listens to his show being described for the blind. He laughs so hard that he approaches the point of sabotaging his own show.
However, Don does suffer some repercussions for his practice of reprinting reviews whole cloth and receives a cease and desist letter in response. The Chicago Tribune Theatre Editor pre-emptively reminds him of the limits of fair use when he provides Don with the link to the review which appeared in that paper. (I assume he does that with all the blogs and not in reaction to the desist letter.)
While I don’t wish legal action on anyone, I appreciate the reminder about the intellectual property issues and concerns one must be cognizant of when creating art. From what I understand, the cease letter was sent in reaction to reprinting a review from a web only publication. Since he fully credits and links to the original review, the only motivation I can think of for hiring a lawyer is that the advertising revenue lost by not having people visit the site. I am not sure Don was even asked to take the post down prior to receiving the letter. As more newspapers move to web only presences, I wonder if this sort of thing will become more prevalent.