I had an opportunity to talk to Lily this morning and I know she shares in this apology with me.
I believe so strongly in the work of HowlRound because I long for open and transparent conversation for the theater. So often we do the hard work behind closed doors and we miss the opportunity to share valuable learning with each other. I offer this apology as a way of making transparent my own learning process this week.
On Tuesday we published a NewCrit piece by Lily Janiak. It covered her experience seeing a new piece of theater at Cal Shakes. Lily has been a terrific critic for HowlRound whose work and voice I completely support. When I edited this piece I read it in that context and saw immediately her keen observations of a common dissonance in our field—an institution working with one set of intentions and the audience perceiving something else. This felt like an important piece of criticism to me. What I missed in my editing was a tone that I don't think properly reflects what I hope to be the tone of HowlRound. Brad Erickson's comments on the post address this well. There is a way that the tone of Lily's piece can be read as disrespectful. This is not a tone we want to promote on HowlRound.
When we announced this initiative it was controversial and we received a lot of negative feedback for suggesting that criticism could come from a place of "positive inquiry." And I'll admit finding that tone of positive inquiry without censoring the emotion and opinions of the contributors to HowlRound has been the most difficult work I've undertaken in the theater. And I think in this instance I failed in my role as editor to set a proper tone.
I offer my sincere apology to the HowlRound readership and to the staff of Cal Shakes for this misstep. And I look forward to working with all of you to continue to create a place where hard conversations can happen with respect and generosity.