Let’s Rumble!

Theater-going is serious business by Bay Weekly standards — whether the action is live in local theaters or projected in huge images on the silver screen. Since our earliest days, both have had prominent place in our pages.
    From 8 Days a Week to reviews, the plays of local theaters always get play. Carol Glover, our first official theater reviewer back in the 1990s, handed over the privilege to Dick Wilson, who in turn passed it on to Jane Elkin and Davina Grace Hill.
    Through the years and beyond disparity in tastes, our reviewers have shared one quality: their love for theater, professional and community, local, regional and national — even operatic. Wherever they’ve lived, they’ve set aside time and money to attend many plays. They’ve studied the literature of theater. They’ve involved themselves backstage, too, as actors and crew, executives and board members.
    Davina Grace Hill, who has a graduate degree in community arts management and an undergraduate degree in theater, is executive director of Chesapeake Arts Center, which includes its own playhouse. On the Eastern Shore, Hill wrote a column about arts for The Daily Times.
    Jane Elkin acted and sang on stage and labored backstage for many years — returning to the stage last year for a role in Colonial Players’ production of Mrs. California — before turning her theatrical passion to reviewing. So when Elkin called herself a “mainstream mom” in lamenting the play Beyond Therapy, The Bay Theatre Company’s current production, she was talking taste, not credentials.
    Knowing who you’re listening to is a good thing. In introducing new reviewers, I always tell something of their credentials. With Elkin and Hill reviewing for years now, there’s reason I tell you this. Specifically, two comments of vigorous disagreement posted on our website, www.bayweekly.com.
    Let’s rumble!
    The ease and anonymity of electronic communication are great friends of vigorous disagreement, and I’m delighted to hear it even when I’m its subject. We’ve had our say in print and online; opposing voices deserve their say.
    I’m only sorry that in this case a late typesetting error in the print edition mismatched photo and caption, an internal mistake and completely out of Elkin’s control.
    Like our online correspondents, you may disagree with Elkin’s judgment. But I’m standing behind her, grateful that she told our thousands of readers where she — and other reviewers — stood so you could decide for yourself where to sit.
    At the same time, I’m loving the controversy.

Onto the Movies
    Bay Weekly’s been at the movies as much as at the theater over the years. Doc Shereikis began our 18-year tradition of movie reviews in 1994, and Jonathan Parker, Mark Burns and Diana Beechener — all movie lovers and scholars — have kept it up.
    Traditionally, we’ve complemented reviews with movie show times at local theaters.
    This week, another theater-goer, movie-lover Barbara Tether writes that our listing of movie times has failed her.
    For the three theaters whose times we list, we get them straight from the source, theater management claiming more authority than the kid selling tickets. We publish but once a week, while the movie theaters are free to tweak their lineup in that time in order to best fill seats.
    Most weeks we do run a disclaimer noting that showings and times are subject to change. Last week we didn’t. But we did, as we do every week, list the phone number for each theater, so that readers can check the lineup. Additionally, we have live links to each theater’s showtimes at bayweekly.com, where we are able to keep up with the theaters’ changes.
    Occasionally, in the interest of space and clarity, we list a single time for showings that differ by 10 or 15 minutes on different days of the week. In those cases, we publish the earlier time, as arriving too early is no sin, while missing the opening scene is reprehensible.
    Wondering whether our fixed-time listings are relevant in this Internet age, and given the fact that there are far more theaters than the three we list, we cut them out on trial recently. Back came complaints to the tune of, How are we supposed to see the movies if we don’t have the time?
    Since then we’ve included the showtimes. Now I’m wondering again.
    So I need your advice: Do you value print showtimes — or should we find a better use of our time and space?