January Letters: ‘The Post’....

Readers respond about 'The Post,' the Philadelphia Orchestra's British Festival, Angela Meade, Choral Arts' Monteverdi concert, Trump and Captain Queeg, Charles Dutoit and sexual harassment, Cameron Kelsall's best theater of 2017, Berliner Ensemble's 'Shakespeare's Sonnets,' educational arts programs, and Asian stereotypes in 'Aladdin.'

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Joseph Glantz

of Levittown, PA on January 10, 2018

I just wonder what has happened to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the press. With the printing of the Pentagon Papers, they made a statement that the public has a right to know what their government is doing. Yet in all this brouhaha over Hillary's emails, they became completely enamored of classified information. I like to think Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee and others would have questioned why so much information was being upgraded to classified when logic says it should have been downgraded, and that they wouldn't have deferred to the FBI, the State Department, or anyone in questioning why so much information was being classified at all. The worst example FBI director Comey gave was that Hilary Clinton didn't secure communications (which he claims should have been classified) about the drone strikes — which everyone already knew were taking place, because (among other reasons) they were already being reported in the press.

Marjorie G. Jones

of Philadelphia, PA on January 17, 2018

Concurring with your recent review of The Post and the usual annoying Spielbergian frills, such as the kid’s lemonade stand, I’d add to your list Katharine Graham showing up at the Supreme Court alone and without a purse! As if… 

Still, as you also observed and especially now, it is a powerful and important picture and, as always, Meryl Streep is terrific.


Dan Larkin

of Merion Station , PA on January 17, 2018

I learned of this thing called the "Pentagon Papers” in 1971 when I picked up “my” copy of the Times from the man who ran the newsstand across from Vanderbilt University. I was stunned. Last weekend I watched The Post. I was very deeply moved. For my taste, everything about the script, the acting, the cinematography, the lemonade stand and its proceeds, was pitch perfect. I look forward to seeing it again — soon. 

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Gail Obenreder

of Wilmington , DE on January 15, 2018

This was such a good look at last weekend's concert. I heard them on Friday night. I had the percussion in my view during the Bestiary, so that added to the fun. It was dense, but the audience loved it. The Water Music seemed almost new, and the players were given the freedom to play like chamber musicians. It was great. And yes, the Britten was really beautiful. The opening strings and the flutes just transported me. Thanks, Cameron!

Margaret Darby

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on January 17, 2018

Great review! I enjoyed the Bestiary when I heard it on Thursday night and particularly liked hearing the musicians sing and hum and watching the percussion do crazy things, like Angela Zator Nelson using a typewriter as a percussion instrument. You are right that the MacMillan is no lullaby. Richard Woodhams was adding ornaments and playing with the exuberance of a teenager in that magnificent Handel. So glad you gave him his due, and that you recognize individual musicians in the orchestra.

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Carol Lidz

of Philadelphia, PA on January 09, 2018

I couldn't disagree more with your comments. I felt very well nourished. I especially enjoyed Angela's venture into the world of song, as I've only heard her in operatic roles. I sat next to a well-known voice teacher from New York, who was in ecstasy throughout the performance, as was I.

Margaret Darby

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on January 10, 2018

What a food fight! Che c'era di dolce?

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Gail Obenreder

of Wilmington , DE on January 03, 2018

Margaret Darby's always-on-target musical viewpoints are always a pleasure, and this is no exception. Wish I had been there!

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Richard da Silva

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on May 25, 2017

What's President Trump's excuse? Good question. Perhaps only his hairdresser knows for sure. And as the Muslims say, "Only Allah [God] is all-knowing."


of San Jose, CA on January 05, 2018

The author is far from understanding the complexity of human nature. Actually, the resemblance between Wouk 's fictitious character and the real life paranoid schizophrenic who rules the U.S. is quite striking. Both the imaginary and the real character find themselves in situations that exceed not only their moral compass and intellectual capacity but also their capacity to withstand the psychological pressure of their positions in the corresponding situations. Queeg snaps in the face of the typhoon; Trump snapped in the face of the presidency. Otherwise, they are comparably vile and evil. But Trump seems to be indeed much more idiotic than the book character.

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Margaret Darby

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 27, 2017

Dan, I think you nailed it when you said the "exposé ... merely confirmed in public what insiders had long accepted." And I don't mean Mr. Dutoit necessarily, but all harassment.

The real question for me, having just seen a magnificent movie— All the Money In the World, where an accused actor was hastily replaced— is: Shall we forego the art created by the guilty? If Leonardo da Vinci were found to have been lecherous and aggressive, shall we forego the Mona Lisa?

Cameron Kelsall

of Oaklyn, NJ on December 27, 2017

Dutoit desperately coveted the position of music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he never received. (Bestowing upon him the title of "Chief Conductor" from 2008-2012 was a deliberate choice). I had heard that one of the main reasons he never achieved that goal was because the orchestra musicians held him in spectacularly low regard, and were not shy about voicing their displeasure with his bullying and verbally abusive tactics in the rehearsal room. Unlike Levine, I doubt anyone equated him with a demi-god among men, and unlike Levine, I'd never actually heard rumors about his sexual misconduct before the AP story broke. But given his personal conduct elsewhere, it seems utterly truthful. He was always — to my ears, at least —a decidely second-rate musician, too. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as they say.

Greg Maughan

of Philadelphia, PA on December 28, 2017

Great article, Dan. It's nice to see a growing understanding of the importance of believing people (especially women, since they are more often the targets) when they make reports of inappropriate behavior.

I would take issue with one statement you made. I disagree with the notion that nobody wants to receive formal reports about key personnel. I run a small-ish arts organization in the city, and we have made a concerted effort to counter discrimination and harassment for many years. In that time, I have received reports about people who were in important positions and welcomed them. An organization that wants to root out harassment must embrace that work fully to succeed, even when it is hard. We have removed people from positions, and it has been disruptive to our growth and artistic success in the short-term. I am also certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that it has been vital to our longer term reputation and sustainability. Hopefully, more people in charge will come to see issues of harassment and discrimination from this point of view.

The writer is founder and executive director of Philly Improv Theater.— Ed.

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Margaret Darby

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 29, 2017

200 plays! That is amazing. Quite pleased to see We Shall Not Be Moved and Bald Soprano on your list.

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Patricia L. Smith

of Rudolph, WI on January 01, 2018

Wonderful article! So great to have found this on January 1. I need to remember the term used for the groups that "applauded" performances in Shakespeare's time.

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Dane Wells

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 27, 2017

Our daughter was a theater major in college and went into theater professionally, first in acting, later in management. She decided to move to the for-profit side, and was snapped up by an international design consultancy firm. Reason she was hired: her theater background. The firm prized the creative and organizing skills that theater developed. Yet another reason theater skills are valuable.

Margaret Darby

of Center City/ Philadelphia, PA on December 29, 2017

Thank you for highlighting this excellent program. Not only does it give students an artistic outlet for their ideas, it helps them understand the theater. And if it does not create stars, it will create new actors, directors, and (gasp) theatergoers ... who will form the backbone of the future of our theaters.

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Quynh Mai Nguyen

of Philadelphia, PA on December 26, 2017

"Any emotional response to theater is legitimate." I have to admit, Gina Pisasale's statement struck a negative chord with me and seemed to miss the mark regarding Wong’s position. Pisasale overlooks the issue of how stereotypes misrepresent Asian-American culture and how that misrepresentation affects very real people. The concern being addressed with respect to this production of Aladdin is not simply "an emotional one."

Wong addresses a very real and serious systematic erasure of Asian-American voices. She points to stock characters like Fu — characters that paint Asians as villains and have, unfortunately, led to real life consequences.

Put plainly, racial caricatures are not all fun and games. Fu’s character — the slanty eyes, the mustache, the funny sounding name — embodies a collection of negative stereotypes that have become shorthand for "Asian." People use these stereotypes to navigate life, manage social situations, and determine how to behave towards others, however distorted these stereotypes might be. When stereotypes are encouraged, a community loses its truth. Its voices begin to fade, and they are denied their ability to tell their own stories.  “Asian American” is a vast umbrella, and we all have different perspectives.

Pisasale's experience (which I respect) is that of a Korean-American adoptee who has been looking for Asianness where it’s been lacking. Her experience, however, is very different from those Asian-American immigrants or second-generation children who need to decide what aspects of their culture they must sacrifice in order to gain acceptance. Wong’s article is more than an emotional response. It is about speaking up and fighting for visibility. It is about reclaiming a voice and sharing real stories.