A post yesterday over at Culturebot references a letter, sent out by Carolyn Cantor of Edge Theatre in promotion of Essential Self-Defense, which uses pullquotes from three reviews by bloggers. As David and I are two of the three, and the Culturebot post might lead you to think we were plied with liquor and free shrimp, I wanted to set the record straight.
I was approached with the offer of complimentary tickets during the first week of previews, in exchange for posting a discount code in advance of seeing the show and for writing about it after I had here, on my own blog, and at New Theater Corps. Although it is always a tacit understanding when approached with comps that I was free to write what I pleased, in this case I was assured, plainly and in writing, that I could write either positively or negatively. I was the only person approached here; David went and got a ticket on his own and wasn't part of any blog promotion.
The Culturebot post is primarily concerned with what it thinks is an unconvincing argument in Cantor's letter which depicts the Times as out of step with the general opinion on the show; I can not speak to any of that. But I am uncomfortable with what seems to be an implication that there's something underhanded that bloggers like myself were invited and that our positive reviews were quoted; should the quotes from the traditional critics also have come with the disclosure that they were comped? The Culturebot post seems to say that the disclosure of blogger comps would have put our opinions in perspective. It's distressing to see a prominent, trusted blog such as Culturebot take a position such as this, that implicitly depicts bloggers as easily dazzled and swayed by freebies. If "the blogosphere needs to make further inroads into theatre" as the post says, the implication that we can be had for cheap ain't nothing but a dead end.