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We Need This Flier Like We Need a Hole in the Head

Posted 5/16/2001

When I saw the fliers for your short-fiction and poetry contests, my first reaction was to throw it in the trash. To suggest that anyone put a gun to his or her head is appalling. In my opinion, this design shows very poor taste and expresses thoughtless disregard for human life. There is absolutely no creativity in this flier!

Nancy Zellinger

A Beltway Curtain?
I have just read and enjoyed Jack Purdy's review of Passion at Fells Point Corner Theatre (Theater, May 9). He rightly celebrates the impressiveness and sophistication of the production--attributes which, together with City Paper's review, should contribute to good houses for the run of this show.

Baltimore theater benefits tremendously from timely publicity/reviews, and so it is with some sorrow that I draw your attention to the closing last week of the superlative production of Cabaret directed by Eric Stein at Barnstormers Theatre at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville--a production lauded by all who saw it (and many came two or three times) but neglected in terms of publicity and reviews. A considerable amount of blame lies with the college, whose lackadaisical and inept efforts at publicity did a severe injustice to all those who so willingly gave their time and talents to what should have been a moneymaker. The college, after all, would have been the financial beneficiary, not the players.

While the college was incompetent in its publicity efforts, City Paper is said to suffer from some strange sort of urban snobbery--namely that the paper does not review productions that take place outside the city. I would hope your response to that would be "b***s***." Surely the demarcation of city boundaries does not mean that all worthwhile artistic endeavors stop there. Catonsville community college is 10 minutes from downtown. It has a beautiful, well-equipped theater with a dedicated staff and, in this instance, a polished cast and crew who loved every minute of what they did and only wished more people could have participated in the experience.

And lastly, for all those well-meaning friends and colleagues who don't necessarily show up for performances--put your money where your mouth is. We're all busy, we all have lives, but if those of us in the artistic community don't support each other, don't ink in those dates and stick to them, don't celebrate each other's work, then we're not a very good advertisement for our own product.

Linda Kent

Arts editor Heather Joslyn responds: Sorry, Linda--I can't answer with a simple "b***s***." True, we review few productions outside Baltimore, but not because we believe "worthwhile artistic endeavors" stop at the city line. (We do review some companies outside the city now and then, such as Howard Community College's Rep Stage, which as an Equity company employs professional actors.) It has more to do with resource and space constraints. When I took over the CP's Arts & Entertainment section in 1995, I made some hard choices about how to deploy those resources (currently three theater critics) and use that space (generally room for one to three reviews a week). Those choices included deciding what we would focus on (city productions) and what we wouldn't (student shows, for example). Much as we might want to, we can't review every local production, so we try to do a few things as well as we can rather than spread the quality of our coverage thin. We do preview many plays we don't review in our Baltimore Weekly, and we hope readers check the calendar every week for listings of shows throughout the region.

Correction: Last week's Cyberpunk incorrectly generalized that New Economy business magazines "started appearing about five years ago." One of the magazines cited, Upside, is actually 12 years old, and another, Red Herring, debuted in 1993.

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