A New Day, A New Way

By Paul Castaneda

ORLANDO — It’s been a while since I have written a review for any outlet including this one. Many reasons for that, most of them quite mundane and boring.

But, if I am to be honest, the most important ones are these: first, in writing reviews, I’ve always been concerned with the fact that I am writing about people I know, people I may have worked with, people I may like or not like and who may like or dislike me. Even though I am quite confident in my ability to take in and critique a work based on what it is and not on anything extraneous to the same, I’ve been around long enough to know that many will believe differently.

Secondly, I firmly believe that the entire system of reviews in performing arts, and more generally arts overage itself, is broken. From what I see from many reviews in this town and around the country, the product seems to be sort of sanitized and insulated. I even see it in my own past writing.

Making matters worse, there is a decided lack of diversity in the people doing the reviewing and the features, coupled with a paucity of effort to understand the new voices being covered and the ways in which institutionalized systems have helped to silence and diminish them.

In covering potentially controversial topics in the arts, I have seen the same disease prevalent in national political coverage: a refusal to state abject facts as the facts they are AND an inclination to present “both sides,” even when there are not really 2 sides, but rather a right and a wrong or a victim and a victimizer.

As a result, bad actors (no pun intended) have lasted far too long, facts have been diminished by being presented in equal light with pablum, and hard hitting questions have rarely been asked, feet have not been held to the fire and our collective arts scene had suffered as a result,

Now, I am no fool. I realize that most reviews and arts coverage ultimately must report to corporate masters and the bottom line. I know that no corporate entity wants to piss off a sponsor, lose a segment of the population in these trying financial times or, God forbid, face the threat of legal action. But the purpose of art is to hold a mirror to humanity and expose it for what it is, good and bad. And the purpose of arts coverage SHOULD be to do the same to those creators holding those mirrors.

So … what to do. Well, recently, the owner of this site approached me about kick-starting my writing AND becoming more heavily involved in what this site is to be in the future (more on that in the weeks to come). And, after a deep breath and heavy gulp, I agreed to do just that. But, I have no interest in writing what has become the standard reviews, previews or feature articles.  I think you deserve more. So, whenever possible from the participation of creators and my own due diligence, I intend to write articles that present to the reader not just what is occurring on that stage, but also the intentionality of the creatives that led to this moment, the cultural influences that brought it forward and the unique humanity of those involved. 

As a Latine first generation artist, writer and human, my writing will be informed by who I am and how varying cultures have influenced me and continue to influence me.  Further, I intend to seek out new voices to write for this site, voices that have been historically and are currently under-represented, misrepresented and missing. I intend to shy away from nothing. It should be one hell of a ride.

See you at the show.

Paul Castaneda is an Orlando actor, stage director, playwright and sales professional, and the co-founder of the Greater Orlando Actors Theatre (GOAT).

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