By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I'd had enough: As a former resident of South Dallas (1928 S. Akard St.), I am writing to say Mr. Davenport is a brave man ("Kickback City," by Jim Schutze, May 12). The neighborhood is a horror--everybody knows that--but what truly makes it intolerable is the attitude of most police officers.
I came home one evening to an intruder in my house. I called police and notified them of a missing shotgun. With military precision, Dallas SWAT surrounded my house and entered only to find nobody inside. One hour after the siege I called police to inform them I had found my TV, stereo and VCR in a field behind my house. They accused me of putting it out there to prove there was really someone in my house. Two hours later while cleaning up the mess, I hear someone in the air duct in the house. I call police, and I guess he heard me and made a run for it. I fired a shot at him and he escaped. When police arrived, I was told if I called them again, I would be arrested.
This was just the beginning. I was accused of being a drug dealer, a fence for stolen property and my car was towed three times from my driveway. The last time, two of my tires were stolen during the night. I reported it and went to get some used tires, leaving a large note in the window telling them this. I returned in 30 minutes to find my car had been towed again. I was told a car with no tires is an eyesore. That was it for me; I had had enough.
The mayor has the nerve to call us urban pioneers--as if she's glorifying the courage required to live in these areas. I dealt with the crackheads, I dealt with the thieves, but I knew I could not deal with the cops. I live in New York City now, and the neighborhood is just as bad, but at least I know the cops are on my side. Ms. Mayor, you should be congratulating Mr. Davenport for his bravery in fighting the criminal element in South Dallas. The true criminal element--your police force.
What a farce: I don't normally object to one reviewer's opinion, but after reading Elaine Liner's savagely hostile and demeaning review of Den of Thieves ("Mat Finish," May 12), I have to speak up in protest.
I'm new in town. I direct, promote and perform in live theater; I review stage plays and write arts features and columns. I'm visiting a number of the regional stage companies to get a feel for the "scene," to find my performance niche. I happened to attend Den of Thieves at the new Hub Theatre space in Deep Ellum on the night that Ms.Liner came to review it. I observed her demeanor when she arrived, clearly displeased to be there and churlish to the house staff. When the curtain time was delayed a few minutes due to late arrivals (it's a new theater space, and presumably attendees are learning its location), she acted as though it was an enormous personal affront. It was clear she was not "in the mood" to write a professional, dispassionate review. People sitting near her looked uncomfortable.
Many people do not enjoy, or comprehend, farce. Ms. Liner is clearly one of them. Farce sets out to lampoon some aspect of human behavior or cultural paradigm by portraying ridiculous situations, usually inspired by "cartoon-like," overblown characters. There is no deep message, no room or need for nuanced character development. It's a good, cheap laugh--in many ways the precursor to TV's sitcom. Ms. Liner's haughty, dismissive comments, derisive comparisons of the play to other genres of performance art, were way off base. Den of Thieves isn't a great work of art and was not so intended. It's a light, silly farce. Not The Laramie Project. Review what you see, not what you wish you were seeing...
Re: the acting and direction that Ms. Liner was so critical of--very apropos for the genre. Talking heads primarily--goofballs, zany stereotypes, in two New York apartment settings, with silly sight gags. Nonstop manic behavior, enjoyably over the top, a total humorous send-up of the entire 12-step program movement in a nutshell, set in a Mafia condo. Who could be more outrageously co-dependent than a bunch of low-life criminals? Tim Shane's directions suited the material, and his young actors were a pleasure to watch. Did the actors give Tony performances? No. Were some of the accents a bit shaky? Definitely, but that added to the mayhem and hilarity. It was a solidly executed, fast-moving performance of a lightweight but funny stage play. Hardly the tiresome, boring disaster Ms. Liner described in her review.
Importantly, Ms. Liner failed to mention, or perhaps notice, the enjoyment experienced by the audience of 50 or so theater patrons. They chuckled; they groaned; they guffawed; they applauded during scene changes. Spontaneous giggles all through intermission. I sat next to a couple from Weatherford who had come in for a "night on the town." They were thrilled, planned to encourage friends to attend and intend to see more plays by Tim Shane's company.
Perhaps you want your reviewer to write combative pieces to encourage letters like mine. It certainly doesn't serve art well, or the successful expansion of the arts in the D-FW region. Liner's review was cruel, unfair and inaccurate; it smacked of personal vendetta. Sometime over this next year, I will direct a play at a regional venue (and it most likely won't be a farce). Ms. Liner will not be welcome to review my production.
Elaine Liner responds: I didn't sit near anyone at the performance. My row was empty that night; there were only about a dozen people there total. I wasn't churlish to anyone. The show did start late. It was not a good show. Perhaps my not laughing was interpreted as being in a bad mood. I just wasn't amused by the performance. When it was over, I wrote about what I saw.