Sunday, April 3, 2011

Re Shakespeare's "As You Like It" at Pitt.

What is called the University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre offers a large cast of students taking on the assignment of performing Shakespeare’s As You Like It, supplemented by one local professional actor, Ken Bolden, who’s also on the faculty. Faculty member Sam Turich has directed, calling for contemporary effects such as everyday clothing and cell phones. This is an opportunity for the public to witness young, non-professionals getting training and experience playing Shakespeare

Calling this and other student cast productions “repertory” is a mis-leading term suggesting to audiences that this is professional, which it is not. It’s also faulty education for students. The word “repertory” implies either an acting company which appears in more than one play in the same season or alternating performances of more than one play. Or both. The Pitt Theatre Department should know better.

Performances continue through April 10th on campus at the Charity Randall Theater in Oakland. Info at 412/624 PLAY (412/ 624-7529) or


  1. "Repertory theatre" does not equal "professional theatre." There are plenty of non-professional repertory theatres. Your definition of the word in your second paragraph does not even include the word "professional." I'm not sure why you feel the need to make this point. Additionally, the theatre department's mainstage shows are referred to as "University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre" productions - clearly the department isn't trying to hide its affiliation with the school.

    Also, you've said nothing about the performances or the production - why bother writing a review citing a specific show if you're only going to talk about the department's use of the word "repertory?"

  2. Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to comment.

    You are correct: "repertory" does not equal professional. I don't say that it does,rather I say that it SUGGESTS to audiences that it could be professional.

    I chose not to say anything about the performances or the production, my perogative.
    And what I wrote is not called a review, but "re" and is not intended as a review.

    It is intended as a criticism of the mis-use of the word "repertory" equally mis-leadingly used by Point Park U as "The Rep."

    My criticism of both still stands. gs

  3. P.S. See my February review of Pitt U's production of "Churchill in Shorts." gs

  4. Shame, Mr. Spencer. Shame. Write an article about your distaste for both departments' misuse of the term or write about As You Like It - don't fudge a title for a two and a half paragraph joke. You've been reviewing both of their shows for years, and you're just coming to the realization that you have a problem with their use of a word in the name of the department? (something which most people involved have nothing to do with - in fact, I'm pretty sure the faculty members who named each dept. have since left ... why not complain to them?).

    You've reviewed me positively in shows worse than this. You couldn't find a single nice thing to say about it (or even a small discussion of all the ways it failed)? It's unprofessional, sir. I find it absolutely astounding, insulting and in poor taste.

  5. PS, notwithstanding - If you're criticizing two Universities for the same thing, mention them both in the article; don't wait for the comments to bring up the second. It's rude.

  6. PSS. I am not involved with either University.

  7. Hello! Thank you for your comments and your interest.

    You may have a point there about my reference to my piece alleging it's about "As You Like It" when it is really mostly about something else. I do, however, say something, however slight, about what the production intends.

    Meanwhile,I reserve the right to NOT write about something I've witnessed. It's my blog.
    Sometimes not saying something can be more charitable than extended negative criticism. This is, after all, a student production and I'm sure the students are doing the best they can.

    I have, on other occasions, avoided writing a review of something that I thought didn't work well in any respect.I may do so again. gs

  8. I think there's nothing wrong with mentioning a show without reviewing it, or with complaining about a misleading company name instead. And it is a bit misleading, more so for Pitt than for Point Park, since Point Park's Rep is a professional company, and they perhaps have a bit of a stock company feel to their casting, choosing certain actors repeatedly.

    But each of the shows at Pitt (or any school) draws from the same pool of student actors, so they're likely to appear together in more than one show in a season. In that sense, it's a little like the stock company of a traditional repertory theatre.

  9. Thanks for these comments.Good points!
    Actually I wrote the piece motivated to alert readers that it is a student production and to not be mis-led into thinking it is professional, regardless of the accurate meaning of the word "repertory." Than, being a critic, not just a reviewer, I added something which I consider equally important, something which, I suppose, could have been posted separately. gs