Elizabeth Maupin was the theater critic for the Orlando Sentinel for 26 years. She decided it was time to leave the paper and start a new chapter in her life. In honor of her final day on the job, Brian Feldman read selected reviews she had written for the Sentinel. This eight hour event was broadcast live on brianfeldman.com, Qik, Vokle and Livestream. Viewers were encouraged to request specific reviews with names and dates of the productions. When I asked Brian if I could sketch this performance, he tried to encourage me to sketch from the comfort of my home. I had to explain that sketching a computer screen didn't offer the life and vitality that I get when I am sketching places the audience usually doesn't get to see. On the day of the event he fired off the address. When I arrived I had some trouble seeing the building numbers, but then I spotted his tell-tale mini marquee sign in a ground floor window. Since he was reading all day, he simply left the door open and I slipped in without a sound. I immediately sat down and started sketching. Brian never even turned to see who had entered, he is such a pro.
The space was an amazing twisted technological mess. Wires snaked around the floor and posters and assorted paperwork were hung everywhere. It was ironic that all the audience could see was a single Shakespeare poster behind Brian. That poster was the one note of decorative calm in the storm. Some review requests were also rather ironic. For instance, a request came in to read a review that changed a playwright's life. He wrote a play and was so excited when it got to the stage. However, Elizabeth's review was so scathing, that he decided to give up the theater and work in city planning. Many of the reviews were Fringe related. Brian was constantly scanning the multiple screens and windows to bring up reviews and try and keep all the video streams working. This was a nonstop juggling act with many stops and starts.
Elizabeth has just started a new blog titled "Elizabeth Maupin on Theater", so the next chapter of her life has already begun. The theater community can sigh with relief, since Elizabeth's voice and opinions will still be heard.