05 July, 2011

Ask Al: Reviewing Reviews

©michelle &ivan hoo
Hi Alexandra,

How do you deal with not so favourable reviews?  

Do you read reviews in general or no?  
How do you not let an individual's opinion affect your art?  

I know, on a personal level, and I know this is the business, it's amazing how quickly one person's individual opinion can completely shake how one feels about their performance and on another level makes them question their work.  I feel that's both the beauty and danger of letting someone see and comment on one's work, it's open to interpretation and criticism and it's an extremely vulnerable place because it is so personal. 
So when someone negatively comments on it (or even comments on something you hadn't seen before) it can affect what was "yours" since the art you make becomes public.

Thanks again,


* * *

Dear Lauren,

First of all, I am so sorry that your feelings were clearly hurt, and possibly your pride a bit wounded. But try to remember that first, this is part of the process too and second, even though those words are out there in the Universe, on the internet and more damagingly, imprinted on your mind, they are simple someone's opinion. Yes, ultimately, that is all they are: one person's opinion

Everyone is different. Some people have a very developed sense of self-worth and esteem that maintains itself resiliently despite any knocks. But I challenge you to find me that person (let alone the artist) who can maintain that outlook all of the time. The truth is, people are sensitive. And actors are sensitive professionally. And I have never discussed reviewing with a reviewer, but the truth is, they are entitled to their opinions and freedom of speech and of the press is their right. Even if it is more than a little glib.

Tyne has an amazing quote about reviewers:

“A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle themself, yet who afterward comes out shooting the wounded.” 

Now... that is a touch dramatic, but Tyne can pull it off.

Look. Honesty box?  It is personal. 
I would ere on the side of not reading them if you have a sensitive constitution or if you are prone to the influences of others (even a favourable review can make you get a little bit "proud" and less present in your work if you know what I mean...)

But more often than not reviews can make you utterly despondent. And it is understandable because, as you so rightly pointed out, you have put your heart and soul on the line, you have oftentimes bled for the work, opened your heart, exposed your Self.

Either way, there is not harm in reading them long after the run is established or complete, but feel your way with this. Learning how you personally handle reviews and reviewers is part of learning the business too. 

Above all remember this: You are enough. I promise.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! It's very encouraging - and I like what Tyne Daly says!



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