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  • Writer's pictureNora Landy

On Critiquing Miracles

Updated: Jun 26

Can art be done "correctly?" Can it be done "wrong?" I've found myself in some heated discussions about it- and after finalizing the divorce, I've decided that my answer (as I see it now) is no. Art can be done in a way that I don't love, that I disagree with, that I abhor even, but there is no one to claim authority on whether it is wrong.

I'm here primarily to talk about music theatre, the ever-evasive, contentious woman she is. I have a lot to say! I love theatre more than almost anything else in this life, and many people who share that sentiment seem to hold this (to me, strange) belief: that because they love theatre, they need to love all theatre. Indiscriminately. Listen, I know the outside world hates us; I know they're calling us cringe social rejects all day and I know that makes us feel defensive, but we're among friends here! Let's dig in! I want to pick things apart, I want to analyze and disagree and maybe even get clowned on for some unpopular takes in the name of MT because I love it so much. I cannot blithely simp for every spit particle ejected on a Broadway stage just because that's where it was spat!

To earnestly participate in the creation of art is one of the most vulnerable things we are able to do as people. Particularly in the realm of theatre- these artists are toiling in the job-hunting mines, putting their innermost points of view out there, often with no guarantee of receiving anything in return. I think it's part of why theatre kids so often lack specific taste: they have to love every show because they know what goes into putting on a show! There can be so many curveballs in the production process that it becomes a miracle for anything to end up onstage at all. It's hard to critique something that you know is most likely a miracle.

Not for me though! I've got stuff to say and I want to share it with you. What exempts me from the reverent appreciation for all theatre regardless of taste? Nothing. I know how terrifying it is to put on a stage production. So while I have many thoughts and opinions, I want to share the following: I do not consider myself an expert, or even an authority. All I have are a Bachelor's degree and a whole lot of gusto. Though I sometimes have strong opinions, and I sometimes use animated language to articulate them, I do so with respect for creators in mind at all times. I am happy to be corrected when I am wrong and also happy to learn more about things I don't yet understand. I will never punch down- I try to limit my less favorable opinions to regard places that have the money/resources not to care what one girl thinks. My endeavor is to never say anything that would break the heart of the artist concerned (should they read it). I critique because I have ideas, not because I want to beat anyone down or add negativity to an already hostile space. My hope is to participate in more dialogue about the art that I love, with humility and care at all times.

<3 Nora

Photo of 18-year-old me, in NYC for unified college auditions, having just won lottery tickets to School of Rock. Taken by my father, Brian Landy.

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