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Don't Review Ex Shows



To the Editors of The Crimson:

The members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) board were dismayed to read the review of the Experimental Theatre (Ex) performance of Patrick Tan's Straightlines that graced your "On Arts" page on Friday, March 2. Our objection is not with the content of the review itself, but with the fact that the show was reviewed at all.

As is known to those who read the fine print at the bottom of the page, shows presented in the Ex have not been reviewed in recent memory. Those who wrote the disclaimer were apparently unaware that until six years ago, Ex shows were in fact reviewed. This policy was reversed by the HRDC board after it determined that reviews can have a detrimental effect on the experimental nature of the Ex. All of the campus papers, including The Crimson, acquiesced to this decision. As recently as 1987, the Crimson's arts editor agreed not to review Ex shows. Directors applying to the Ex have been assured that their shows will not face the pressure of a review.

The HRDC board believes that without this pressure Ex directors feel greater freedom to take risks. Reviews can taint the reputation of a director and affect his or her ability to obtain space and performers for future productions. For this reason a director with the knowledge that his or her show will be reviewed can feel less inclined to attempt experiments that could fail. Thus a review can hinder "free, unhindered dramatic experimentation."

Shows in the Ex do not charge admission. The audience is invited free of charge into the risks taken by Ex directors in exchange for granting the productions a level of tolerance reserved for experimental theatre. As audiences are not expected to pay for admission to Ex shows, Ex directors and performers are granted the freedom by HRDC policy to experiment in drama without the pressure of reviews.

The HRDC board regrets that The Crimson seemed to be unaware of this policy and of its long-standing agreement to it. We hope that this letter convinces the Crimson that more than an editorial decision is needed when breaking such an agreement. Mary Elizabeth Rieffel '91   President, HRDC   Zoe Mulford '91   Ex Coordinator   [On behalf of the HRDC board]

Editor's Note: The editorial decisions of The Crimson are not bound by the precedent of previous executive boards.

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