Dear Sri Balaji,
I was rather disappointed at the review since it somehow seemed to emphasize the negatives a lot more than the positives.
Our whole effort is geared to
(a) keeping the Tamil drama alive here with local talent to the maximum extent possible;
(b) to help deserving non-profit organizations to raise funds; and
(c) to have some fun in the wonderful company of our fellow Stage Friends.
So far, we have raised well over $50K for various such organizations including several Tamil Sangams and temples in the USA and institutions serving the poor and needy in India. As you probably are made aware, this year's entire collections go to Sindanai Sirpigal a non-profit that is building infrastructure in several villages in Tamilnadu.
Our team members spend countless amount of time (e.g. rehearsals each weekend involving signficant travel, building sets, lugging an audio system, etc.) voluntarily and expecting nothing in return besides some solid appreciation and support from the community. All of them have a full time job too.
Thus, while I understand your disappointments with the play and are equally aware of the need "to raise the bar" for ourselves, unfortunately it does not happen overnight, and we ARE trying.
As for the quote, it is from the book "Memoirs of a Mediocre Man" by S.Y. Krishnaswamy who was an ardent lover of the arts and music. The book itself is very readable and humorous and you may find it in India. I will try to find the publisher info for you if I can locate my copy.
The words I quoted were stated in the context of music critics who sometimes concentrate too much on minor lapses of sruti etc in a concert that otherwise is grand and thereby stifle creative attempts and extempore improvisations. He has several pages on them, and in one place he says that a critic who concentrates too much on the negatives is often like a sanitary inspector, who though he has the privilege to enter and roam around grand mansions, is yet condemned to spend most of his time inspecting only the sewers. Nothing would prevent him from enjoying the grandeur of the mansion's other parts.
Of course, it goes without saying that his inspection is absolutely essential too. I only wish you had enough positives to balance out the negatives.
Sometime soon, I will send you a copy of an article I myself wrote titled "A crique of critics and criticisms" which was also published in Sruti, the Indian magazine for music and dance. Perhaps, you would remember it while writing your future reviews. Your balanced response to my note indicates you are a thoughtful person quite capable of that.
Hope we will meet some day.
வியாழன், ஏப்ரல் 29, 2004
Dear Sri Balaji,