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“I am a journalist, but I am also very much a part of the theatre. I sweat with the theatre. I bleed with the theatre. If the theatre starves, I starve. I am the intelligent tick on the backside of genius. Hopefully.”—Clive Barnes

[Image of Mitch Kearney]

FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A DRAMA CRITIC

Ten years ago, when I was dangerously new in the business of New York drama criticism, the editor of PLAYBILL asked me to write about my experiences as a New York As a New York drama critic. I had at the time been a New York drama critic for all of three months. Maybe four. In any event, Joan Rubin, your editor, persuaded me to tell all. Or at least as much of the all that was interesting enough to print.

What was it E. M. Forster said about India that wasn’t Howard’s End? I forget. I can never read my notes and I have a poor memory. However it was something to the effect that after spending three weeks in India you know everything about the country and after spending five years you know nothing. I may have gotten the figures mixed up, but about the country and the sentiments I am certain. And, may I quite irrelevantly add, they are precisely my feelings about criticism.

Ten years. It has been quite a decade in the New York theatre and for that matter quite a decade in my own life—that difficult period of being poised between 40 and 50. The one thing I notice about growing up is that it never seems to get easier with experience—perhaps only experience gets easier with experience. I started the decade as the new figure on the drama aisle for The New York Time. I ended it on the New York Post.

I have an abiding love for The New York Times—we parted on terms of perfect friendship with neither side requesting alimony, but naturally I am excited by the prospect of the Post. It is something new, a new toy, a new career, a new happiness.

As soon as my Post appointment was announced one of the questions I was continually being asked was whether I intended to change my writing style. The answer, of course, is no. It is always a mistake for writers to change styles when they change newspapers — you have to presume that the auditors and publishers are bright enough to understand what they are getting when they hire you, and are in fact buying you as you are, not what you could become. The Post has been reading me for ten years on The Times and knows exactly what it has brought. And that, I promise everyone, for good or ill, is precisely what it will be getting.

But since these are confessions—let me confess. There are three things I miss on leaving The Times. My friends, obviously. The publisher, the editors, the writers—I miss my daily contact with them, of course, particularly my two closest colleagues, Mel Gussow and Anne Kisselgoff, for we had worked as a dance and drama team (I was a person who needed two right-hands, left-hands J could provide for myself). We talk on the phone these days,

by Clive Barnes
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