“Dear ‘Tatler,’

Forgive me for getting harsh on you here, dude, but that last post was really crappily written!  I mean:  you teach writing?  Really?  I’m thinking the emperor’s got no clothes!

First off, there’s a real problem with coherence in the post.  You start with this whole bit about whether or not critics should read plays before seeing them, yadda yadda…but then you drop the topic and don’t really take it up again.  So, are you saying critics should read plays before seeing them, or not?  You seem to think that it was ‘okay’ that you hadn’t done your homework before reviewing all those other plays, but then you seem to be saying, ‘well, this time I did do my homework and I didn’t like the play so …’ — so, what?  It’s not clear what your point is here.  If I were, say, a literature or drama prof I’d be giving you some pretty big point deductions for going all ‘OT’ and vague on your reader.

And then, it’s totally unclear whether or not you actually are recommending the play to your readers!  Like, WTF?  Is it good, or not?  What kind of review is it if we don’t know whether or not to go see the play?

And finally, in your third paragraph you repeat the phrase ‘in fact’ twice, and you’ve got the word ‘fact,’ like, four times in the post.  Starts to feel like you’ve got some wierd verbal tic.

‘Impeccaby written?’  I don’t think so….Seems like we should be able to expect more from a drama prof at CMU, is all I’m saying.

— Anonymous”

Dear Anonymous —

Thank you for taking the time and energy to respond to both the style and content of the Tatler’s writing.  Your criticism is astute and perceptive — indeed, when prompted to view her own prose objectively, as your letter does, the Tatler must confess that your criticisms are precisely those she would level at herself!  

There is no excuse for bad writing or bad manners — both are the offspring of laziness and/or arrogance.  

Yet the Tatler would like to remind you, and all of her gentle readers, that  writing, like any other craft, involves making something where there was nothing before.  As such, the risk of failure is ever present.  This is also the case with theater, which is one of the reasons the Tatler aims to be as generous in her assessment of what she sees as possible, even in cases where a given play or production does not quite hit its mark.  

Thank you, dear Anonymous, for reminding us all that the writing of criticism should live up to the kind of aesthetic and intellectual standards to which the object of that criticism is subjected. 

— The Pittsburgh Tatler