Transcript: Kate Taylor | Nov 29, 1998

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting in a room with pale blue walls: “Kate Taylor. Critic.”

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a blue suit, striped blue shirt, and a striped blue tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
SHAKESPEARE DESCRIBED
MY NEXT GUEST
IN HER INFINITE
VARIETY.
SHE'S CALLED BONNY KATE OR
SOMETIMES KATE THE CURSED.
I GUESS IT DEPENDS ON WHAT
KIND OF REVIEW YOU'VE GOTTEN
FROM HER BECAUSE SHE'S
THE DRAMA CRITIC
FOR
THE GLOBE AND MAIL.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH KATE TAYLOR.

Kate is in her thirties, with long straight brown hair. She’s wearing a pale blue corduroy blazer over a white blouse, and silver hoop earrings.

Richard continues SO, BONNY KATE,
KATE THE CURSED,
DO YOU OFTEN SIT THERE
WHEN YOU'RE TYPING AWAY
ON FRONT STREET AND
SAY, WHAT ARE PEOPLE
GOING TO THINK OF ME
AFTER I WRITE THIS?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Kate Taylor. Critic.”

Kate says OH, IT CROSSES MY
MIND OCCASIONALLY,
BUT IT CERTAINLY DOESN'T
STOP ME AND IT DOESN'T
REALLY AFFECT WHAT I SAY,
AND USUALLY IN THE MOMENT
OF WRITING, YOU'RE TOO
ENGAGED, I FIND,
IN THE PROCESS OF WRITING
TO BE THINKING TOO MUCH
ABOUT THE IMPACT IT WILL
HAVE IN THE COMMUNITY.
PEOPLE OFTEN DISCUSS
WHO THEY WRITE FOR,
YOU KNOW, AND SOME PEOPLE
TALK ABOUT THEIR
IDEAL READER WHO'S
THEIR, YOU KNOW,
THEIR MOTHER OR THEIR FRIEND
OR SOMEONE WHO THEY THINK
OF READING THIS THING, AND
I DON'T REALLY DO THAT.
I SIT THERE AT THE
COMPUTER, AND FOR ME
IT'S A KIND OF BEING
HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
I WRITE WHAT I HONESTLY
THINK AND DAMN
THE CONSEQUENCES, REALLY.
SO, I DON'T THINK TOO
MUCH ABOUT THE IMPACT,
AND I THINK WHEN YOU
START TO DO THAT,
IT CAN BECOME
REALLY LIMITING,
AND IF YOU THINK OF CRITICS
WHO WORRY A LOT ABOUT
THEIR SORT OF PUBLIC IMAGE
AND YOU CAN SEE THEM
KIND OF GROOMING THEIR
WRITING TO FIT THAT,
I THINK THAT'S QUITE
DANGEROUS BECAUSE YOU WIND UP
SORT OF STEPPING BETWEEN
YOURSELF AND THE READER.

Richard says DO YOU THINK YOU WRITE
ANY DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE
YOU WRITE FOR
THE
GLOBE AND MAIL,
WHICH IS THE PAPER OF
RECORD AND SUPPOSEDLY
THE MOST INTELLECTUAL OF
ALL THE NEWSPAPERS?

Kate says I DON'T THINK I COULD
DO WHAT I'M DOING AT
THE GLOBE
FOR ANY
OTHER PAPER IN CANADA
AND FOR REALLY
PRACTICAL REASONS.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE THEATRE
REVIEWS THAT RUN
IN
THE TORONTO STAR,
THEY'RE HALF THE LENGTH.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says AND THAT CAN BE BOTH
WONDERFUL IN THAT I THINK
IT GIVES ME ROOM TO REALLY
SORT OF SCULPT ARGUMENTS;
ON THE OTHER HAND, I THINK
SOMETIMES IT GIVES
ME ROOM TO
INDULGE MYSELF.
SO IT CAN WORK
BOTH WAYS.
I DON'T KNOW IF MY WRITING
WOULD HAVE DEVELOPED
DIFFERENTLY IF I
WERE WRITING
FOR A DIFFERENT NEWSPAPER.
WELL, I IMAGINE IT MUST
HAVE HAD TO BECAUSE
IT WOULD HAVE TO
BE SHORTER.
BUT I MIGHT THEN HAVE
JUST BECOME SO FRUSTRATED,
I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ABLE
TO CONTINUE DOING IT,
AND CERTAINLY FROM
THAT POINT VERY,
I'M VERY SPOILED AT
THE GLOBE
IN THAT I'M GIVEN SPACE,
AND I'M ALSO GIVEN
PERMISSION TO TAKE A FAIRLY
SERIOUS TACK AND A
FAIRLY HIGH TONE.
AND THAT'S NOT
USUALLY QUESTIONED.
EVERY SO OFTEN SOMEONE WILL
BRING YOU UP SHORT AND SAY,
YOU KNOW, WHAT ABOUT
THIS OR WHAT ABOUT THAT?
BUT FOR THE MOST PART,
I'M GIVEN FREE REIGN.

Richard says YOU DON'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN
THIS FOR OUR READERS, THEN.

Kate says NO, THERE'S NOT MUCH
OF THAT, REALLY.

Richard says GREAT.
NOW, I'LL TALK MORE ABOUT
THEATRE CRITICISM PER SE
AND YOUR FEELINGS ON IT, BUT
ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS
IS THAT, ALTHOUGH YOU'VE BEEN
WRITING FOR
THE GLOBE
FOR
A WHILE IN VARIOUS CAPACITIES,
WHEN YOU CAME ON AS THEATRE
CRITIC, YOU MADE AN INSTANT
IMPRESSION AND VERY QUICKLY
YOU HAD BECOME A MAJOR
FIGURE IN THE WRITING SCENE
IN THE COUNTRY, AND YET
PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS AMAZED
TO FIND OUT HOW YOUNG YOU ARE
OR HOW YOUNG YOU SEEM TO BE.
I MEAN, THERE
MIGHT BE A PICTURE
OF SOMEONE 85 IN YOUR
ATTIC, I DON'T KNOW.
BUT HOW DID YOU
GET TO THIS PATH?
WHEN YOU WERE GROWING
UP, DID YOU EVER SAY,
I'M GOING TO BE
A THEATRE CRITIC?

Kate says OH, YEAH.

Richard says REALLY?

Kate says OR I CERTAINLY SAID,
I'M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT
THE ARTS FOR A
DAILY NEWSPAPER.
I KNEW THAT THAT'S
WHAT I WANTED TO DO
BY THE TIME I
WAS ABOUT 15.
I THINK LIKE A LOT OF
PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED THE ARTS
PROFESSIONALLY, I GREW
UP IN A FAMILY THAT HAD
A GREAT DEAL OF AMATEUR
INTEREST IN THE ARTS.
AT A CERTAIN POINT
WHEN YOU'RE A KID,
YOU KIND OF GO,
HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT,
I COULD MANAGE TO MAKE A
LIVING ENGAGED IN THESE
THINGS THAT MY PARENTS
ONLY GET TO DO
ON EVENINGS OR WEEKENDS.
AND THAT IT
COULD BE A LIFE.
AND I THINK AS A YOUNG
WOMAN, TOO, I WAS VERY,
VERY IDEALISTIC ABOUT THE
ARTS AND SAW THEM AS
VERY BROADENING AND
HEIGHTENING AND
THAT I WANTED TO
PARTICIPATE IN THAT.
I'VE NEVER SEEN
MYSELF AS AN ARTIST.
I THINK FOR MAYBE THREE
SECONDS WHEN I WAS 14,
I THOUGHT I WANTED
TO BE AN ACTRESS,
BUT I'VE NEVER SERIOUSLY
PURSUED ANY KIND
OF ARTISTIC WORK MYSELF.
I ALWAYS WANTED
TO BE AN OBSERVER,
AND I WAS INTERESTED IN
NEWSPAPERS AS A TEENAGER.
I'M NOT SURE WHY, I
JUST READ NEWSPAPERS.
AND I THOUGHT THE BEST THING
IN THE WORLD TO DO FOR
A LIVING WOULD BE THE
PERSON WHO WRITES ABOUT
THE ARTS IN THE NEWSPAPER.
AND I WROTE FOR A
NEWSPAPER IN HIGH SCHOOL.
I WROTE FOR
UNIVERSITY PAPERS.
I DID A DEGREE IN
HISTORY AND ART HISTORY
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO, BUT I WAS ALREADY
STARTING TO WRITE ART REVIEWS
FOR
THE VARSITY
THEN.
AND THEN I WENT INTO THE
JOURNALISM PROGRAM AT WESTERN
IN LONDON AND WITH A
VERY FIRM NOTION THAT
WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS
CULTURAL JOURNALISM.

Richard says EVERYTHING YOU'RE
MENTIONING IS ONTARIO CENTRIC.
IS THAT WHERE YOU
SPENT YOUR WHOLE LIFE?

Kate says WELL, I GREW UP PARTLY IN
OTTAWA AND PARTLY IN EUROPE.
MY FATHER, BEFORE
HIS RETIREMENT,
WORKED FOR THE DEPARTMENT
OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS,
SO WE LIVED ABROAD
A FAIR AMOUNT,
SO I SORT OF HAD THIS
CHILDHOOD SPLIT
BETWEEN OTTAWA AND
THEN, YOU KNOW-

Richard says YOU WERE A DIP
BRAT, AS THEY SAY?

Kate says EXACTLY.

They both laugh.

Richard says WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
WERE YOU AWARE OF PUBLIC EVENTS
AND THINGS VERY EARLY ON?

Kate says WELL, MY PARENTS HAVE
ALWAYS TAKEN ME TO -
WHEN I WAS A KID, THEY ALWAYS
TOOK ME TO THE MUSEUMS.
MY MOTHER'S A
GREAT MUSEUM GOER,
AND TO THE THEATRE
AND TO THE OPERA.
AND OBVIOUSLY LIVING IN
EUROPE AND SPECIFICALLY
WE LIVED IN FRANCE IN THE
MID-'70s WHEN I WAS JUST
REACHING MY TEENAGE YEARS,
AND THAT WAS - I THINK THAT
WAS MORE INFLUENTIAL, NOT
FROM POINT OF VIEW OF THE
PERFORMING ARTS, BUT FROM
POINT OF VIEW VISUAL ART,
WHICH I'VE ALWAYS
BEEN INTERESTED IN
AND HAVE ALSO
WRITTEN ABOUT.
AND I WAS JUST CONTINUALLY
TAKEN TO MUSEUMS
AND I THINK THAT THAT
HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON ME.
FROM A MORE SORT OF
EMOTIONAL POINT OF VIEW,
I THINK IT MAKES ME VERY,
VERY AWARE OF HOW IMPORTANT
IT IS TO BELONG SOMEWHERE
AND HOW HARD WON THAT
IS IN A COUNTRY LIKE
CANADA WHERE MANY OF US
ARE RECENT IMMIGRANTS.
I TALK A LOT IN MY WRITING OF
HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO HEAR
LOCAL VOICES AND NOT
SIMPLY TO IMPORT AMERICAN
PLAYS, AND ONE OF THE
REASONS I FEEL THAT,
I THINK, IS BECAUSE I KNOW
HOW HARD IT IS TO KNOW WHERE
YOU BELONG AND TO KNOW WHAT
IT IS TO BE THIS PERSON
IN THIS PLACE AS
OPPOSED TO SOMEONE ELSE
IN SOME OTHER PLACE.

Richard says YOU SAID SOMETHING
ONCE I'LL NEVER FORGET.
I WON'T MENTION THE THEATRE
BECAUSE THERE'S NO NEED
WE DWELL ON IT, AND IT
WASN'T IN ONTARIO ANYWAY.
BUT YOU SAID, IT WAS
UNFORTUNATELY A TYPICAL
NIGHT IN CANADIAN THEATRE.
IT WAS FREEZING OUTSIDE.
IT WAS OVERHEATED
IN THE AUDITORIUM,
AND THERE WAS A SECOND-RATE
AMERICAN PLAY ON STAGE.
AND THAT'S THE KIND OF
THING YOU'RE TRYING
TO FIGHT AGAINST
IN MANY WAYS.

Kate says I'M SADDENED BY THAT.
WHY DON'T WE HAVE THE
COURAGE TO - YOU KNOW,
AND IT'S ONE THING TO SAY, WE
HAVE TO SEE
ANGELS IN AMERICA.
I CAN ACCEPT THAT.
IT WAS A GROUNDBREAKING
PLAY IN THE STATES.
I CAN COMPLETELY ACCEPT
WE WANT TO HAVE A TORONTO
PRODUCTION, BUT WHEN YOU SEE
REALLY MEDIOCRE AMERICAN STUFF,
REALLY BLAND AMERICAN
STUFF, SAY, WELL, GOSH,
PEOPLE COULD BE
HOME WATCHING TV.
WHAT DO WE NEED
THIS FOR?
AND I GUESS I'VE A MUCH
MORE IDEALISTIC NOTION
OF THE THEATRE THAN THAT.

Richard says I'D LOVE TO KNOW WHERE
THAT IDEALISM CAME FROM.
WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, ARE
THERE PIVOTAL, DEFINING PLAYS
OR PERFORMANCES YOU SAW THAT
LIKE ETCHED THEMSELVES
ON YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS?

Kate says WELL, WHEN I WAS
GROWING UP IN OTTAWA,
IT WAS THE PERIOD WHERE
THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE
WAS SPENDING A GREAT DEAL
OF MONEY ON THEATRE,
HAD A RESIDENT
COMPANY, AND WAS DOING
SOME VERY SERIOUS WORK.

Richard says WAS THIS THE JOHN
WOOD DAYS THERE?

Kate says I DON'T KNOW WHO WAS
THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR,
BUT I DO REMEMBER A PRODUCTION
OF
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.

Richard says THAT WAS JOHN
WOOD'S FIRST SHOW.

Kate says YEAH, WITH BENEDICT
CAMPBELL PLAYING TROILUS.

Richard says YES, '78-ISH,
I THINK IT WAS, YEAH.

Kate says IN RETROSPECT MAYBE, YOU
KNOW, WE WERE TEENAGE GIRLS.
MAYBE WHAT WE REALLY LIKED
WAS THE TROJANS WERE
ALL RUNNING AROUND WITH
VERY LITTLE CLOTHING ON.

[laughing]

Richard says AND THEY WERE REALLY
INTERESTED IN EACH
OTHER A LOT, TOO.

Kate says THERE WAS A LOT OF
EROTICISM WITH THAT
PRODUCTION, ALTHOUGH THAT MAYBE
WENT OVER OUR TEENAGE HEADS.
BUT AT THE TIME IT WAS LIKE,
OH, THIS IS SHAKESPEARE.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says THIS IS GREAT.
AND, YOU KNOW, AND WE DID
DRAMA AT HIGH SCHOOL, TOO.
MY CONNECTION WITH VISUAL
ART IS A VISCERAL ONE.
I MEAN, SINCE I WAS LIKE
10 OR 12 HAVE JUST LOVED
ESPECIALLY ABSTRACT ART.
AND THE IDEALISM, I THINK,
INITIALLY CAME ABOUT
FOR ME IN UNIVERSITY
WHEN I STARTED TO WRITE
ABOUT THE ARTS
AND, YOU KNOW,
YOU HAVE SOMETHING YOU LOVE
AND YOU WANT TO SHARE IT
WITH OTHER PEOPLE, AND THIS
ESPECIALLY WAS TRUE
WITH VISUAL ART BECAUSE
CONTEMPORARY VISUAL ART
IS OFTEN UNDER ATTACK
AND IS SNEERED AT.
AND SO FOR SOMEONE WHO LOVES
IT, I ALWAYS FELT LIKE,
WELL, YOU KNOW, DON'T
YOU GUYS GET IT?
THIS IS SO WONDERFUL, AND
THERE WAS THAT KIND OF
IDEALISM IN MY
WRITING THERE.
THAT SAID, I THINK I'VE
BECOME MUCH MORE CYNICAL
ABOUT WHAT A NEWSPAPER'S
FUNCTION IS.
AND SORT OF DIDACTIC
NOTION OF THE NEWSPAPER
THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED BE SORT
OF PATTING YOUR READERS
ON THE HEAD AND
BRINGING THEM ALONG.

Richard says RIGHT, RIGHT.

Kate says I THINK HAS LIMITED USE.
IT'S A 19TH CENTURY
NOTION OF JOURNALISM
AND I THINK YOU HAVE TO
BE VERY CAREFUL
IN YOUR WRITING,
TO SUGGEST THAT.
THAT SAID, I THINK
THE
GLOBE'S
ROLE AS A PAPER
IS TO LEAD, NOT TO FOLLOW.
YOU WERE ASKING WHETHER
I SORT OF THINK ABOUT
THE READER AND THINK ABOUT
THE IMPACT IT WILL HAVE,
AND I'D SAY ON THE
WHOLE, MY PHILOSOPHY IS,
NO, YOU JUST SAY,
LOOK, I'M HERE.
THIS IS THE LEVEL I'M
DISCUSSING THE PLAY AT AND,
YOU KNOW, YOU CAN SAY
MAYBE I SHOULD BE UP HERE
AND SHOULD KNOW MORE, OR
MAYBE I SHOULD BE DOWN HERE,
BUT I CAN'T REALLY
CHANGE THAT.
YOU KNOW, I
AM WHAT I AM.
I KNOW HOW MUCH I
KNOW, AND THAT'S
WHAT I BRING TO
THE REVIEW.

Richard says IF YOU DIDN'T LIKE
SOMETIMES AN ACTOR
IN A PART, YOU WOULD
SPEAK AD HOMINEM:
THEY'RE TOO OLD
FOR THIS PART.
THEY'RE TOO EFFEMINATE
FOR THIS PART.
THEY'RE TOO THIS, THEY'RE
NOT ATTRACTIVE ENOUGH
FOR THIS PART.
NOW THAT SPRUNG
SPONTANEOUSLY.
DID YOU EVER THINK TWICE
ABOUT ANY OF THOSE?

Kate says I'M NOT AWARE OF
DOING THAT REPEATEDLY.
I HAVE TO SAY THAT ACTORS
HAVE A VERY TRICKY JOB
IN THAT PART OF WHAT
THEY'RE DOING IS CRAFT.
PART OF IT IS THEIR
INTELLIGENCE AND I THINK
YOU CAN OFTEN SEE WHETHER
OR NOT ACTORS THEMSELVES
ARE INTELLIGENT BECAUSE I
THINK THAT GIVES THEM
THE INSIGHT INTO THE
CHARACTERS THEY'RE PLAYING.
BUT PART OF IT IS THEIR
LOOKS AND ALSO THE WAY THEY
PROJECT THEIR PERSONALITY,
AND THAT'S VERY HARD.
IT'S AT ISSUE WHETHER
YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.
IF YOU'RE DOING REALISTIC DRAMA
AND CAST A 50-YEAR-OLD WOMAN
AS A 20-YEAR-OLD, YOU
ARE ASKING YOUR AUDIENCE
TO SUSPEND DISBELIEF
AND CAN THEY DO IT?

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says AND OBVIOUSLY, IN OPERA,
WE'VE DECIDED IT'S SUCH AN
ARTIFICIAL REALM THAT WE ASK
PEOPLE TO DO THAT ALL THE TIME.
THE FIRST SERIOUS OPERA I
WAS EVER TAKEN TO WAS
THE PRODUCTION OF
ARIADNE
AUF NAXOS
AT THE NATIONAL
ART CENTRE IN OTTAWA MY
FATHER TOOK ME TO WHEN
I WOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT,
I GUESS, 14 OR 15.
AND THE SOPRANO WHO SUNG
THE ROLE OF THE SORT OF
NYMPH-LIKE ARIADNE, WITH HER
LONG BLOND HAIR, WAS GREEN,
AND I, AS A CHILD, SPENT THE
ENTIRE PRODUCTION THINKING,
WHY IS SHE GREEN?
WHY IS SHE GREEN?
AND FINALLY, TOWARDS THE
VERY END, I REALIZED,
OF COURSE, SHE WAS BLACK AND
THE MAKEUP DEPARTMENT
HAD MANAGED TO GET THE
BLACK UP TO GREEN,
BUT THEY HADN'T QUITE
GOT IT TO WHITE.
WELL, YOU KNOW, IF YOU WANT
A BLOND NYMPH-LIKE ARIADNE,
EITHER YOU'VE GOT TO
CAST A WHITE WOMAN,
OR YOU'VE GOT TO SAY WE'RE
DOING COLOUR-BLIND CASTING.

Richard says RIGHT.

says BUT YOU CAN'T TRY AND
DISGUISE THE BLACK WOMAN
AS SOMETHING SHE'S NOT.
THANKFULLY TODAY, WE DO
COLOUR-BLIND CASTING
IN THOSE SITUATIONS.
SO, I GUESS I HAVE A
BLUNTNESS ABOUT THOSE ISSUES.
AND YOU HAVE JUST HAVE
TO SAY, I'M SORRY,
IT DOESN'T WORK.
I'M OUT THERE
IN THE AUDIENCE...
AND I'VE HAD THE SAME
EXPERIENCE WITH ACCENTS,
WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE
FOREIGN ACCENTS THAT ARE,
BECAUSE OF THE PLOT
LINE OF THE PLAY,
ARE DISTURBING BECAUSE
YOU'RE SAYING,
WHERE DOES THIS
CHARACTER COME FROM?
WHAT ARE THEY
DOING IN THIS?
I CARE A LOT THAT IF YOU'RE
GOING TO DO BRITISH PLAYS,
AND WE DO AN AWFUL LOT
OF - I'M TALKING ABOUT
NOT SHAKESPEARE BUT SAY 19TH
CENTURY BRITISH PLAYS, SHAW,
OSCAR WILDE, WHATEVER -
THAT IT BE DONE WITH
THE CORRECT ACCENTS, OR AT
LEAST THINGS THAT WILL PASS
TO THE CANADIAN EAR AS
THE CORRECT ACCENT.
AND, YOU KNOW, IF YOU
CAN'T DO THAT, THEN,
WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?
THAT'S PART OF THE CRAFT.

Richard says YOU RAISED THE ISSUE OF
COLOUR-BLIND CASTING.
IN PRINCIPLE, EVERYONE
AGREES IT'S A NICE CONCEPT,
BUT DO YOU FIND IT MORE
HONOURED IN THE BREACH
THAN THE OBSERVANCE
IN CANADA LATELY?
LIKE THERE HAVE BEEN QUITE
A FEW INCIDENCES OF IT
THAT WE'VE RUN INTO.
DO THEY STRIKE YOU
AS SUCCESSFUL OR?

Kate says I THINK IT DEPENDS ENTIRELY
ON THE UNIVERSE OF THE PLAY.
I THINK SHAKESPEARE CAN
BE A VERY SUCCESSFULLY
COLOUR-BLIND CAST BECAUSE
IT'S NOT A REALISTIC -
IT NOT A REALISTIC AND
AN IMMEDIATE WORLD.
I DON'T THINK 19TH
CENTURY REALISM CAN BE.
I DON'T REALLY THINK YOU
CAN DO
IBSEN
COLOUR BLIND.
I THINK WHAT WE'RE
FINDING NOW, OF COURSE,
WITH CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN
PLAYS IS THEY SIMPLY
REFLECT OUR WORLD, WHICH
IS MULTI-CULTURAL.
AND SO WE DON'T NEED TO
WORRY ABOUT THAT AND I'M
SORRY THAT I CAN'T THINK OF
AN EXAMPLE IMMEDIATELY BUT
I'VE SEEN RECENT PLAYS WHERE
SOME OF THE CHARACTERS
ARE VISIBLE MINORITY ACTORS AND
IT JUST MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.
YOU JUST ASSUME THAT
THAT'S WHO THAT PERSON IS.

Richard says NOW, THE OTHER THING THAT'S
INTERESTING ABOUT THIS
NATIONAL MOSAIC, YOU TALKED
ABOUT THE COUNTRY AND
BELONGING, YOU HAVE
BEEN VORACIOUS ABOUT
GOING OUT TO SEE PLAYS.
I THINK YOU'VE SEEN MORE
THAN ALMOST ANY
OF YOUR PREDECESSORS
OR MORE THAN ALMOST
ANY CRITIC IN
THE COUNTRY.
YOU TRAVEL
EXTENSIVELY.
YOU'LL GO TO SEE THE
BIG AND THE LITTLE
AND THE MEDIUM
AND ALL OF THAT.
IS THERE A COMPULSION
THERE OR ARE YOU TRYING
TO LIKE SHOW US THE
WHOLE PLAYING FIELD?

Kate says WELL, I THINK AS
A CRITIC IT'S VERY,
VERY DANGEROUS TO CUT
YOURSELF OFF FROM
ANY TYPE OF ACTIVITY,
AND WHEN I SAY THAT,
I MEAN THAT THERE ARE MANY
CRITICS WHO ARE WRITING
FOR MAINSTREAM PAPERS WHOSE
READERS MAINLY WANT TO GO
TO FAIRLY LARGE SHOWS, WHO
SIMPLY IGNORE THE SMALLER STUFF.
AND, OF COURSE, IT'S
THE SMALL, NEW THEATRE,
YOU KNOW, PEOPLE STRUGGLING
TO PUT ON A NEW PLAY IN
A BLACK BOX SOMEWHERE WHICH
WILL CREATE THE NEXT GENERATION
OF ARTISTS AND IF YOU
REMEMBER THAT SOMEONE
LIKE DANIEL MACIVOR FIRST
SHOWED UP AT THE TORONTO FRINGE.
YOU'LL KNOW THAT IT'S NOT
SUCH A SMART IDEA TO SAY,
I'M SIMPLY NOT
GOING TO THE FRINGE.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says LET ALONE THESE
SMALL SCALE ONE-OFFS
THAT APPEAR THROUGHOUT
THE SEASON.
SO I THINK IT'S VERY
IMPORTANT TO KEEP
IN TOUCH WITH
THAT STUFF.
THE GLOBE
ALSO HAS
A NATIONAL MANDATE,
SO I TRY AND GO OUT
ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
THAT SAID, YOU HAVE TO
RECOGNIZE THAT MONTREAL
IS THE FRENCH-SPEAKING
THEATRE CENTRE AND TORONTO
IS THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING
THEATRE CENTRE.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says AND THERE ISN'T AS MUCH
OF THE SAME QUALITY
THAT'S PRODUCED
OUTSIDE THOSE CENTRES.
BUT I DO TRY.
I DO TRY, ESPECIALLY ALSO TO
GIVE PEOPLE A FIRST CHANCE.
OKAY, WELL I'VE NEVER
SEEN SO AND SO'S WORK,
SO IF I DON'T GO
AND SEE IT, HOW CAN
I KNOW THAT IT
ISN'T WORTH SEEING?

Richard says DO YOU FIND ALSO, YOU
GET TO DO FEATURE PIECES,
AS WELL, INTERVIEWS
AND THINGS LIKE THAT.
IN A LOT OF THE AMERICAN
PAPERS, I KNOW FOR EXAMPLE,
THE NEW YORK TIMES, IT'S
A POINT OF HONOUR THAT
BEN BRANTLEY DOES NOT
HAVE TO DO INTERVIEWS.
HE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO MEET
THE PEOPLE HE'S CRITICIZING,
AND IN A PERFECT WORLD, YOU
WOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT.
BUT DO YOU EVER FIND
THAT CREATES A PLEASANT
OR UNPLEASANT TENSION?

Kate says IF I'M IN A SITUATION
WHERE I THINK IT'S GOING
TO CREATE AN UNPLEASANT
TENSION ON THE WHOLE,
I DON'T DO THE
INTERVIEW AND TRY
AND GET SOMEONE
ELSE TO DO IT.
WE USED TO HAVE A
RULE AT
THE GLOBE,
NOT THAT THE CRITICS
COULDN'T DO INTERVIEWS,
BUT THEY WERE NEVER TO
DO THEM DIRECTLY BEFORE
THEY REVIEWED THE WORK.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says BECAUSE THE NOTION IS
THAT THE ARTIST MIGHT THEN
INFLUENCE YOU, EITHER IN
FAVOUR OR AGAINST
THE WORK YOU'RE
ABOUT TO REVIEW.
IT'S A VERY TRICKY
POSITION TO MAINTAIN.
TO BE ABSOLUTELY PURE, THE
WAY SOME OF THE BRITISH AND
AMERICAN CRITICS ARE ON THE
LARGER PUBLICATIONS AND
SIMPLY NEVER, YOU KNOW,
I NEVER WRITE A FEATURE.
IT CAN SOMETIMES MEAN
YOU CUT YOURSELF OFF
FROM INFORMATION.
I MEAN, AFTER ALL,
YOU'RE A JOURNALIST.
INTERVIEWING IS HOW
YOU GAIN INFORMATION.
SO IT'S A REALLY
TRICKY LINE TO WALK.
I FIND PEOPLE ARE PRETTY
GOOD AT NOT BEARING GRUDGES
AND KNOWING THAT WHEN
YOU COME TO TALK TO THEM
ABOUT THIS IT'S, YOU
KNOW, WHATEVER IT IS,
IS ANCIENT HISTORY AND YOU
GOING TO - THAT BAD REVIEW
WHENEVER IT WAS AND YOU CAN
SIT DOWN AND TALK ABOUT
THE SUBJECT OF THE DAY.
BUT IT IS DIFFICULT AND IT'S
ONE I THINK WE STRUGGLE
WITH AT
THE GLOBE,
ESPECIALLY BECAUSE RIGHT NOW
I DON'T SEE THAT AMONGST MY
COLLEAGUES WHO MIGHT WRITE
FEATURES AND NEWS THAT
THERE'S ANY GREAT
INTEREST IN THEATRE.
SO FINDING OTHER PEOPLE
WHO MIGHT DO THOSE OTHER
STORIES IS A LITTLE BIT
DIFFICULT SOMETIMES.

Richard says NOW, SOMETHING
THE
GLOBE
HAS ADOPTED, WHICH
OTHER PAPERS HAVE, AND THAT
IS THE STAR RATING SYSTEM.
YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE TO SAY
SOMETHING IS 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5,
3, 4, OR GOOSE EGG.

Kate says YEAH.

Richard says KNOWING THAT YOUR
PARTICULAR STYLE OF WRITING
AND KIND OF MIND, I CAN'T
SEE YOU LOVING THAT.
I CAN'T SEE YOU
WANTING TO HAVE TO SAY,
3 STARS FOR SURE,
3.5 MAYBE,
COULDN'T I HAVE 3.75?
I MEAN, HOW DO YOU
DEAL WITH THAT?

Kate says WELL, IT'S FUNNY.
WHEN I FIRST STARTED, I
WAS JUST AMUSED BY IT.
I THOUGHT IT WAS...
I WAS FINE.
I MEAN, WE DO IT
FOR THE READERS.
THE READERS
REALLY LIKE IT.
AND, OF COURSE, THE
THEATRE COMMUNITY,
I THINK, DOESN'T ON
THE WHOLE LIKE IT.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT
IF YOU WERE, IN FACT,
BEING GIVEN POINTS OR
GRADES FOR YOUR WORK?

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says IT ALSO SUGGESTS
REVIEWING IS NOTHING MORE
THAN CONSUMER ADVOCACY THAT
ALL I'M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING
IS TELLING PEOPLE WHETHER
OR NOT THEY WANT TO BUY
TICKETS, AND OBVIOUSLY, I
THINK THERE'S A LARGER ROLE
FOR THE CRITIC, AND I
WOULD ASSUME THE THEATRE
COMMUNITY THINKS THERE'S A
LARGER ROLE FOR THE CRITIC.
SO, ANYWAY AT FIRST I WAS
VERY FLIP ABOUT IT AND
THOUGHT, WELL, YOU KNOW,
THIS IS WHAT THE PAPERS WANT.
THIS IS WHAT THE
READERS WANT.
I'M NOT HERE TO PLEASE
THE THEATRE COMMUNITY
OR TO PLEASE ARTISTS.
I'M HERE TO PLEASE READERS.
IF THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT,
I'LL GIVE IT TO THEM.
AFTER A WHILE, THOUGH,
OF HANDING OUT STARS,
IT STARTS TO BECOME
DIFFICULT AND THEN YOU GET
IN THE LUDICROUS SITUATION
WHERE YOU'RE COMING OUT OF
A PRODUCTION AT STRATFORD AND
I'LL HAVE THE REVIEW WRITTEN
IN MY HEAD, LINE BY LINE,
AND I'M AGONIZING OVER
WHETHER THAT WAS A 3-STAR
OR 4-STAR PRODUCTION.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says OR WHETHER THESE FAILINGS
IN THIS 3-STAR PRODUCTION
REALLY MEANS IT SHOULD
BE KNOCKED DOWN TO 2.
AND AT A CERTAIN POINT I SAY
TO MYSELF, WAIT A SECOND,
THIS IS NUTS.
I'M SPENDING MORE TIME
THINKING ABOUT HOW MANY STARS
I SHOULD GIVE IT THAN -
SO, AT THAT POINT,
I KIND OF SAID TO
MYSELF, WELL, YOU KNOW,
I HAVE TO WORK WITHIN THIS
SYSTEM WHETHER I LIKE IT
OR NOT, AND MY
PHILOSOPHY'S ALWAYS TO ERR
ON THE SIDE OF GENEROSITY,
AND I REGULARLY GIVE 4 STARS.
AND MY FILMWRITING
COLLEAGUES LIKE TO GIVE
3.5 WHICH DRIVES ME NUTS.
THEY'LL TAKE A REALLY,
REALLY GOOD FILM AND THEN
THEY'LL HAVE A FEW LITTLE
NITPICKS AND THEY'LL DROP IT
AND THEY'LL SAY IT'S 3.5;
AND MY REACTION IS, WELL,
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
ONLY FELLINI GETS 4?

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says IT'S A GRADING SYSTEM SO
THAT PEOPLE CAN DECIDE
WHAT THEY WANT TO
GO AND SEE.
IT'S VERY MUCH ORIENTED
TOWARDS THE CONSUMER.
SO PRESUMABLY YOU'RE NOT
GOING TO SAY TO THEM, WELL,
YOU KNOW, JUST STAY
HOME OR PERFECTION
WILL NEVER BE ACHIEVED.
SO I GIVE 4 STARS TO
THE BEST STUFF I SEE.

Richard says IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU
HAVE A NIGGLE IN IT.

Kate says YEAH, YEAH, AND FOR ME A
SEASON AT STRATFORD
OR SHAW WHERE THEY HAVE HUGE
RESOURCES TO PUT TOWARDS
THEIR PRODUCTIONS,
THEY'RE REALLY DOING
SOMETHING WRONG IF
THEY DON'T MANAGE
TO PRODUCE AT LEAST ONE
4-STAR SHOW EVERY YEAR.

Richard says RIGHT.

Kate says SO I TRY TO BE FAIRLY
GENEROUS WITH IT,
AND JUST NOT GET TOO
HUNG UP ABOUT IT.

Richard says NOW, IN THE BIGGER PICTURE
OF THE THEATRE COMMUNITY,
SOMETHING YOU NEVER
WOULD SET OUT TO DO
BUT SOMETIMES HAPPENS.
ABOUT A COUPLE OF YEARS
AGO, YOU NOTICED THERE
WERE TRENDS IN THE PRODUCTIONS
AT CANADIAN STAGE THAT
WERE - AND I HAVE TO AGREE
WITH YOU - RIGHTLY INCORRECT
IN TERMS OF PLAYS
BEING PRODUCED,
PEOPLE DOING THINGS
INACCURATELY.
AND YOU STATED YOUR
MIND VERY CLEARLY,
PERHAPS BLUNTLY,
YOU MIGHT SAY.
AND THIS KEPT GOING ON
AND IT KEPT CONTINUING,
AND FINALLY, JUST
RECENTLY, THIS PAST YEAR,
AFTER A PARTICULARLY
NEGATIVE REVIEW OF
ONE OF THESE PRODUCTIONS, THE
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR RESIGNED.
AND SOME PEOPLE IN THE
COMMUNITY AND AROUND SAID,
WELL, KATE TAYLOR HELPED
DRIVE HIM OUT OF THE JOB.
DID YOU EVER FEEL THAT?

Kate says NO, AND I THINK IF ARTISTS
AND ESPECIALLY ARTISTIC
DIRECTORS THINK THAT THEY
MUST SATISFY CRITICS OR THAT
BOARDS, FOR THAT MATTER, THE
BOARDS OF ARTS ORGANIZATIONS
THINK THEY MUST SATISFY
CRITICS, WE'LL DO THIS.
THIS WILL KEEP HER HAPPY.
WE'LL DO THAT, THAT
WILL KEEP HER HAPPY.
THEY'RE SHOWING HOW CLEARLY
THEY LACK THEIR OWN
ARTISTIC VISION AND I
FIND THAT INCREDIBLY SAD.
AND I WOULD BE APPALLED TO
THINK THAT THE ARTISTIC
LEADERS OF OUR MAJOR ARTS
ORGANIZATIONS ARE SO LACKING
IN THEIR OWN IDEAS THAT
THEY WOULD SIMPLY PICK UP
SOME IDEAS FROM A NEWSPAPER
AND APPLY THEM, NO MATTER
HOW HEARTFELT AND WELL
RESEARCHED MY OPINIONS MAY BE.
I'M WRITING A PIECE ABOUT
WHAT I THINK STRATFORD
SHOULD DO BECAUSE I
REALLY DISAGREE WITH
THE DIRECTIONS IT'S RUNNING,
AND I DON'T HONESTLY BELIEVE
THAT THEY'RE GOING
TO DO WHAT I SUGGEST.
I DON'T THINK THAT'S
REALLY HOW IT WORKS.
BUT YOU CAN START
DEBATE, OBVIOUSLY;
AND I THINK THAT'S,
AS A JOURNALIST,
THAT'S REALLY WHAT
YOU WANT TO DO,
IS BE PART OF A DISCUSSION,
BE PART OF DEBATE,
INFORM A BROADER READERSHIP
THAT THIS IS WHAT'S GOING ON.
THIS IS WHAT'S IMPORTANT.
AND GET DEBATES THAT ARE
OFTEN RANGING WITHIN A SMALL
ARTISTIC COMMUNITY OUT TO A
LARGER AUDIENCE, YOU KNOW,
IF YOU FEEL THEM TO BE WORTHY
OF THAT KIND OF ATTENTION.
I WOULDN'T THINK THAT
BOB BAKER LOST HIS OR
RESIGNED FROM HIS JOB
BECAUSE OF ANYTHING I SAID.
I WOULD THINK THAT PERHAPS I
WAS THE MESSENGER ABOUT
WHAT KIND OF WORK WAS
BEING DONE AND WHAT
THE PROBLEMS WITH
THAT WERE.

Richard says BUT YOU WOULD NEVER SET
OUT ON YOUR OWN - I MEAN,
AS PREDECESSORS OF YOURS ON
OTHER PAPERS WHO HAVE HELD
THAT MUCH INFLUENCE HAVE
LITERALLY SAID IN THE PAST:
I'D LIKE TO GET
RID OF THAT PERSON.
I DON'T LIKE WHAT
THEY'RE DOING,
AND THEY'VE GONE
ON CRUSADES,
BUT YOU WOULDN'T
DO THAT.

Kate says NO, AND I JUST CAN'T
BELIEVE THE HUBRIS OF THAT.
I MEAN, TO SORT OF SET
YOURSELF UP AS SOMEONE WHO
WILL SAY, YOU ARE NOT
DESERVING OF YOUR JOB
AND YOU ARE.
AND IT'S HARD.
I, FOR INSTANCE, HAVE
SAID IN PRINT THAT THERE
ARE PARTICULAR STRATFORD
ACTORS WHO I THINK NEED TO BE
REIGNED IN AND PARTICULAR
ONES WHO I DON'T THINK
ARE GETTING THE
OPPORTUNITIES THEY DESERVE.
AND OBVIOUSLY TO SOME
EXTENT YOU HOPE THAT, WELL,
MAYBE THEY WILL BE GIVEN THE
OPPORTUNITIES THEY DESERVE.
BUT YOU DON'T WANT TO
SET YOURSELF UP AS -
I WANT TO BE AN
ARBITER OF TASTE,
NOT AN ARBITER OF
JOB OPPORTUNITIES.

Richard says THAT'S A VERY
GOOD DISTINCTION.
ONE OTHER AREA BEING
ON A DAILY NEWSPAPER,
DO YOU PAY ATTENTION
TO, I GUESS,
THE SECOND HAND
OF YOUR DEADLINE,
THE MINUTE HAND OF THAT
CURRENT THEATRICAL SEASON,
OR THE HOUR HAND OF
THEATRE HISTORY IN CANADA?

Kate says WHAT WAS THE MIDDLE
OF THOSE TWO HANDS?

Richard says ONE SEASON.
YOU'VE GOT THIS DAY'S
PAPER, THIS SEASON,
OR HISTORY OF
THEATRE IN CANADA.

Kate says WELL, YOU DO ALL THREE.
YOU KNOW, OCCASIONALLY
THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO
THE STAND-BACK,
GIVE-THE-BROAD-PICTURE LOOK.
I FIND CRITICISM A REALLY
USEFUL FORUM FOR PURSUING
LARGER IDEAS IN A VERY
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT.
NOW SOMETIMES THOSE ARE
IDEAS ABOUT HUMANITY,
ABOUT WHAT IT IS TO
BE A HUMAN BEING,
AND THAT'S THE JOY OF
REVIEWING THE CLASSICS
IS YOU GET TO DISCUSS
WHAT IT IS THAT MAKES
THESE CHARACTERS TICK.
WHY ARE STILL
INTERESTED IN THEM?
THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
REVIEW IS AN EXAMPLE OF THAT.
I GOT TO TALK ABOUT THE WAY
FAIRYTALES ARE ARCHETYPES.
SO OFTEN YOU CAN, WHILE
ADDRESSING THE IMMEDIATE,
YOU KNOW, HERE'S WHAT
THE SETS WERE LIKE.
HERE'S WHAT THE
COSTUMES WERE LIKE.
AND HERE'S WHY WE KEEP
TELLING LITTLE GIRLS
ABOUT THE BEAST WHO
TURNS INTO A PRINCE.
AND WHEN YOU MANAGE TO DO
ALL THOSE THINGS AT ONCE,
IT CAN BE VERY,
VERY GRATIFYING.
ON OTHER OCCASIONS
YOU HAVE TO SAY, OKAY,
ALL I'M DOING TODAY
IS LAST NIGHT'S SHOW,
OR ALL I'M DOING THIS
WEEKEND IS SAYING,
HERE ARE THE ADMINISTRATIVE
PROBLEMS WITH
THIS PARTICULAR ORGANIZATION
OR HERE'S A FEATURE
OF THIS INDIVIDUAL TALKING
ABOUT A WHOLE CAREER
IN CANADIAN THEATRE.

Richard says SOMEONE THIS EARLY
ON IN YOUR CAREER HAS,
FOR YOUR FIELD, ONE OF THE
MOST INFLUENTIAL AND
PLUM JOBS IN THE COUNTRY.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF
STAYING THERE FOREVER?
DO YOU FEEL YOU COULD BE
FULFILLED THERE FOR A LONG TIME?

Kate says I'LL NEVER SAY NEVER,
BUT I DON'T THINK
I WOULD SPEND
MY LIFE IN IT.
JUST FOR VERY
PRACTICAL REASONS,
IT'S QUITE A HARD JOB.
I MEAN, I SEE
150 SHOWS A YEAR,
WHICH MEANS FOR OH
ABOUT A 40-WEEK SEASON,
I'M IN THE THEATRE FOUR
NIGHTS OF THE WEEK.
IT'S HARD TO BALANCE ONE'S
PERSONAL LIFE AROUND THAT.
AND IT'S TIRING.
IT'S IN EFFECT A SPLIT SHIFT
BECAUSE I GO TO PLAYS
AT NIGHT AND WRITE
IN THE MORNING,
I DON'T THINK IT IS
REALLY A LIFETIME THING.
AND I ALSO DON'T THINK IT'S
ALWAYS FAIR TO A COMMUNITY
TO HAVE ONE CRITIC WHO SORT
OF SITS THERE AND CAN NEVER
BE BUDGED FROM THEIR SPOT.
I ALSO THINK YOU CAN BECOME
ASSOCIATED WITH A GENERATION
AND THEN AS THAT
GENERATION AGES,
NEVER MANAGE TO ACCEPT THE
GENERATION THAT COMES UP
BEHIND, AND I CAN
THINK OF MANY PEOPLE
WHOM THAT HAS HAPPENED TO.
SO, I WOULDN'T EXPECT TO DO
IT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
HOW LONG I'LL KEEP DOING IT
FOR, I DON'T REALLY KNOW.
I THINK IT WILL
DEPEND WHAT OTHER -

Richard says AS LONG AS YOU STILL GET
EXCITED BY THE CURTAIN GOING UP.

Kate says WELL, YES.
YEAH, AS LONG AS I STILL
ENJOY THE JOB, OBVIOUSLY.

Richard says THAT'S GOOD.
KATE TAYLOR, YOU'RE
TOUGH BUT YOU'RE GOOD
AND WE'RE GLAD
YOU'RE THERE.

Kate says THANK YOU.

Richard says HOPE YOU STAY
AROUND FOR A WHILE.

He faces the screen and concludes
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOODBYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to TheatreBooks Toronto. Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1998, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Kate Taylor