A Few Recent and Random Thoughts on Reviews and Critiques

You are never as bad as they say you are, but you’re also never as good as they say you are.

Tim Sanders tells a story in his book, Today We Are Rich, about a sermon he gave and a solo he sang in Jr. High. Due to his voice having not changed yet, he chose to sing the solo in a soprano range, and because of it, he received some hurtful ribbing from his friends. He also got some harsh feedback from his choir director scolding him for inserting a sermon which had not been approved or requested.

A young Tim came home to his grandmother in tears.

“What’s wrong? How did your song go?”

“Everyone hated it. I was made fun of for my high voice and the choir director yelled at me for giving what I thought was a very well thought out sermon.”

Tim’s grandmother, who happened to be snacking on some nuts at the time, held up an un-cracked walnut.

“Would you ever think of eating this walnut whole?”

“Of course not.” Said Tim. “I certainly would never be able to swallow it, I would surely choke.”

“You’re absolutely right. You’d need to crack it open to get to the good part, eat the nut, and discard the useless shell.” His grandmother went on to say, “You know you have a beautiful voice, you wouldn’t have been asked to sing a solo if it weren’t true. But, you were never asked to give a sermon, and your teacher was right to call you on it and correct you.”

Take the whole nut, shell and all, find the useful tasty and protein filled part. Eat that and discard the rest.

Reviews and critiques are simply opinions. And not all opinions are right or constructive. Our job as the artist is to wade through the useless to find the useful.

I once had a director who warned us not to read our reviews. Not because he was afraid we’d be discouraged by a bad review, but because he knew we’d never be able to live up to the good ones.

A review means someone was paying attention. And if the review was perfectly glowing, then it could also mean that you haven’t done anything challenging or groundbreaking.

“Die, Vampire! Die!” -[Title of Show]


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