July 15 2009 12:00 AM


Anonymous letters detrimental

I have noticed recently that the City Pulse has been publishing letters in its print edition that are signed with aliases rather than with real names. I am hoping you will reconsider this practice. Unsigned comments require no accountability by the author.

One can see this in the online versions of many daily newspapers, including the Lansing State Journal. These same newspapers, however, require full name and place of residence for comments to be published in their "letters to the editor" sections.

I have no great problem with newspapers allowing unsigned comments at the end of an online article, as I realize that this is important for increasing traffic to the Web site and ensuring advertising revenue (although many people, including myself, do not bother reading these comments due to the low expectations that are set when comments go unsigned).

The letters section, however, should be held to a higher standard by requiring identification of the author. If one has a signed comment published in a widely read newspaper, one will put more time and thought into it and will be held accountable for it by other members of the community. Even though City Pulse likely screens its anonymous letters, I urge you to go one step further and return to the old policy. In doing so, you will not only maintain the quality and integrity of your letters section, but will help to foster the community dialogue that your fine publication has long helped to create. — Peter Ruark, Delta Township

Thoughts on Kluge

When I worked closely with Len Kluge, he encouraged me to ignore reviews during the run of a show. They were the opinion of one individual and there was simply nothing that could be done quickly to change a well-rehearsed performance that was cited as lacking. He insisted that an actor considering reviews must treat the positive and negative feedback with equal weight.
The only motivation for an actor to read a review during the run of a show would be to hear, “You like me. YOU REALLY LIKE ME!”

Len chose to conclude his life in theater by writing reviews in the pages of this periodical. As I have spoken to friends in the past few years, they expressed concern that Len was too harsh or pointed in his reviews. Some believed that he had an axe to grind.

Len stated to me that he felt a sense of responsibility to theater and the audience. He believed that local critics had developed a softball approach to theater reviews. There was critical praise for the exemplary accomplishment and silence about the artless. When a production was substandard, a critic might focus blame on the absent play wright or some other obscure component.
Len felt strongly that this compromised the integrity of the role of critic as well as let people off the hook for lazy or shoddy acting and directing.

Len once wrote the following about his beliefs. “The responsibility exists for all of us within the arts to do whatever we can to ensure quality and discourage the lack of same. This isn’t just about ‘putting on a play,’ so we can be ogled and see our name printed in the paper. We certainly have the right to do that, but we have no right to ask for someone else to pay for it — either through patronage or public funded grants. There are no other hobbyists who are entitled to play on your hard-earned money.

“This is about maintaining the integrity of the theater and of all art. If we fail to do that, we have no one to blame but ourselves for declining attendance. Any philosophy that advocates bad theatre as being better than no theater will result in just that — bad theater.

“Without quality, there is no art and support will continue to disappear. The consequence is inevitable. Even genuine art, of quality craftsmanship, will be hard pressed to reclaim the lost patron. Such a loss is immeasurable for all of us.”

It is my hope that theatre craftspeople, critics and audiences in this community expect and reward excellence, tell the truth when we think something stinks and continually work to better our knowledge and skills.

— Jeff Magnuson, Lansing

Thank you for printing Len Kluge’s story (July 8). It was a great article full of truth about him. I was one of his students for about a year before I moved to California. His lessons gave me a strong foundation on which I was able to build a wonderful body of work in the theater and television. He was a fabulous actor, artist and teacher. Truth is what he sought, and how to find it and express it is what he was able to teach and demand of his students. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and the art community of which he was such an important part.

—Linda Castro From www.LansingCityPulse.com

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