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Ben Brantley —
born on October 26, 1954,
Benjamin D. "Ben" Brantley is an American journalist and the chief theater critic of The New York Times... (wikipedia)
It's nowhere near as intense as what I imagine an actor experiences backstage, but I feel a fluttering nervousness before a curtain goes up on a play. I mean, any play, anywhere - on Broadway or the Bowery or in a church basement.
The cliche was always that 'everybody's a critic,' but it becomes truer every day. Long before reviews appear in the traditional outlets, you can now usually discover - somewhere in the thickets of the Internet - reactions to shows from people who've seen them in previews.
I've seen plays that are, objectively, total messes that move me in ways that their tidier brethren do not. That's the romantic mystery of great theater. Translating this ineffability into printable prose is a challenge that can never be fully met.
If you agree with a critic, you admire him or her. If you disagree, you despise them. We all feel a great need to be confirmed in our opinions.
I have received hostile voice mail messages and e-mails. They are often anonymous, I'm sad to say, as anonymous messages are delivered only by very low forms of human life, in my opinion.