By Bob Hicks
Bless me, reader, for I have sinned.
For 40 years Moses wandered in the wilderness. And for roughly the same amount of time I have stumbled through the landmines of contemporary culture, wearing the sackcloth of the most extreme form of penitent journalist.
I have been a critic.
Well, apparently I have. That’s what everyone tells me. Lord knows I’ve denied it over the years. For a long time, when people called me a critic, I’d correct them. “I’m a writer,” I’d gently explain, “and these days I happen to be writing about theater.”
It did no good. No one believed me. And “Writer Who Writes About Theater” doesn’t fit in a byline, anyway.
A few years ago I was chatting with Libby Appel, who at the time was artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “You know, I’ve never really thought of myself as a critic,” I told her.
Libby’s eyebrow arched. (Sometimes eyebrows actually do that.) “Oh, you’re a critic,” she said emphatically.
I like to think she was delivering a description, not an accusation. I like her and respect her, even though I’ve sometimes argued in print with shows she’s directed, and I think the feeling’s been mutual. Still. There was no question in her mind. I was, without doubt, One of Those People. And Those People occupy a curious position in the artistic firmament. “Critics never worry me unless they are right,” Noel Coward once commented. “But that does not often occur.”
Then again, what exactly is right?