Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009

Here You Go: Covering Milwaukee Theatre After the 2034/2035 Season

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Recently a couple of A&E guys from the daily announced that they had accepted a buy-out for early retirement. Both the classical music guy and the theatre guy, who have been with the daily for some 30 years, are going to be taking it easy. Both will continue to write, but they won’t be covering nearly as much as they used to from here on out. . . .and reading over their final bits as regular contributors to the daily, it dawned on me that I’ve been covering theatre in Milwaukee a relatively sizable fraction of their 30 years in print. Yes, I’ve been covering theatre for roughly 1/6th as long as the guys at the daily . . . which is kind of a weird realization. Being in a relatively young place with respect to the career, I couldn’t imagine wanting to retire from it in 25 years. I see a lot of shows every year. I want to continue to see a lot of shows, even into my 60’s . . . I don’t care if I have to get ocular transplants and ultra high-definition Bose bio-audio implants . . . I want to be able to cover the 2059-2060 Milwaukee Theatre Season. Oh sure—most everything’s going to be online at that point, but I hope to be a ghostly vision on the internet . . . looking vaguely like William S. Burroughs circa 1995 as I do live feeds from bizarre, out of the way DIY theatre spaces, interviewing strange new actors and directors who were born in the mid-2020’s about offbeat upcoming projects.

It could happen.

And whether or not he’s actually been doing so, I think of the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Warren Gerds as being someone who had been covering theatre (and a few other A&E things) for Green Bay’s daily for much longer than 30 years. His career may not have spanned much longer than his Milwaukee counterparts, but the guy seems like he has. This past weekend on my way back from Door County, I noticed that he’d reviewed the same Peninsula Players production I had.

Notice that last sentence in his review. There’s something utterly comfortable about a guy who has been writing theatre reviews for over three decades . . . Gerds’ review of the show actually ended with the sentence, “Here you go.” There’s something beautifully unpretentious about that. It’s just so extremely casual and relaxed. In five years of writing reviews, I’ve never had the guts to be quite that conversational with a theatre review. I dream of a day when I’m old enough to end a review with the sentence, “Here you go.”

Bravo, Mr. Gerds. . .

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