I have left the following Comment for her on her Guardian blog, but some of you may well want to contribute too. But please play nicely - remember we're representing our profession here. I don't want the whole world to think we're like Jade Goody ok?
My Comment to Lynn:
"Those theatre-makers who sincerely believe that it's easy being a critic as well as a friend and colleague have only to take a peek at the row that erupted on playwright Fin Kennedy's website just before Christmas to see what happens when the boundaries blur."
Whilst this point may be true, the row which erupted on my blog was not about this. It was started by an Anonymous commenter making a below the belt remark about another blogging playwright's girth, and drawing a catty analogy with 'flabby plays'. This playwright rightly saw red and responded in kind. He was then vilified for (wrongly) being perceived to have responded with violence to a criticism of his work.
Whilst the resulting furore was indeed gruesome reading at times, in amongst it all was an interesting and important debate about how playwrights in particular are writtten off as oversensitive 'difficult' old buggers the moment they take issue with something someone has said, even if it isn't about their work. We are always in a position of weakness because once we have written our plays and had them performed, everyone else has the last word. For a writer to take part in any ensuing debate is seen as defensiveness.
The traditional balance of power between theatre-makers, critics and audiences has always served to effectively neuter the theatre-makers. The internet and particularly blogs are changing all that, and it is making some critics very uncomfortable. But surely the more people that take part in debates about plays, and the more numerous their views, the more likely we are to get to the truth of a piece of work through being able to see it from all sides, and thereby reach a more accurate (or at least democratic) consensus on its value or otherwise?
Of course, this does mean a bit more work on the part of audiences. They will have to read through comments boxes in more detail to get to the heart of the matter, rather than rely on one critics opinion. But we already consult comments when we buy electrical equipment from Amazon, or Tripadvisor before we book a hotel, or decide whteher or not to trust an eBay seller - why not plays too? One man's Royal Hunt Of The Sun is another man's Love And Money...