I find it irritating that in a city as large as Phoenix, a publication as large as New Times can't seem to find a theater reviewer who actually will review a production. The previous reviewer was too busy illustrating his knowledge of the industry and the history of the script to be bothered with discussing the merits of a specific production. Now New Times has this activist Robrt L. Pela, a gossip columnist who can't step down from his soapbox long enough to talk intelligently about a production.

It's really unfortunate that Pela is too busy talking about who's hot and who's not ("Reversal Hall," January 16), whose production is beneath the actors ("Bad Hair Play," January 23) or what's wrong with a company or its space to concern himself with plot. Frankly, I think most people don't care whether the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company hires Jewish actors--I'd love to see the audition forms Pela would use! Nor do most people believe that a Christmas play needs an enactment of the Crucifixion to truly be a Christmas play. Pela was even critical of the actors' bodies in Jeffrey because they weren't firm enough to be believable for him! Pela should get a life or, better yet, another job. He seems completely unable to speak cogently on direction, characterization, set, costume, timing or any of the other aspects that make a trip to the theater enjoyable.

The worst yet? In the January 23 issue, Pela reveals the surprise ending of Shear Madness, a play in which I perform. He even mocks the request for secrecy from the show in his final paragraph! Pela is that guy in the back row who not only tells the ending, but talks about how he feels that the portrayal of this or that minority is an insult to every human being. The most obvious proof that he's wrong again is that the show he lambastes with such fervor is the longest-running nonmusical in the history of American theater. Good to know he can pick a winner.

If this show's "proposed" four-month run is extended, we can all be certain that not only is Pela a shallow reviewer, he is also ignorant of what constitutes a success. We're lucky his pleas for PC portrayals are drowned out by the applause of the audiences watching such "meager trash." When is New Times going to find a reviewer worth its smug, cutesy headlines?

Gene Ganssle

Desk Drive
Janet Martin is guaranteed legislative confirmation to the state Board of Education ("Enslaved by the Bell," Howard Stansfield, January 30). That she faces scrutiny on her religious views is a smoke screen. Martin and the Legislature have the same views. Legislators in 1995 formed the Constitution Commemoration Committee. The purpose is "that the document should be used to teach Christian ideals in public schools."

While members of Arizona Citizen Project, founded in 1993, saw a threat from Janet Martin in 1994, they were unaware, or took no action on this greater threat. The threat is greater from the Constitution Commemoration Committee because of its legislative power. Also, committee members erroneously believe "the founding fathers were Christian . . . and they expected [Christianity] to remain the religion of their descendants . . ." Quite the opposite, most of the founding fathers were deist.

Where Martin and the legislators do part is when she says, "A government that is based on atheism and paganism becomes socialistic. It shifts away from the family, away from the right of a free-enterprise system."

A government doesn't have to be atheistic to shift away from the rights of a free-enterprise system. The 42nd Legislature confirms Janet Martin's concern about free enterprise. It passed Senate Bill 1348. This repealed ARS 15-711 which required the teaching of "Instructions in Free Enterprise System." After 14 successful years of this course being taught, public high school students no longer have an opportunity to learn about free enterprise. Again Janet Martin, ". . . a free-enterprise system that made this country great." Apparently, free enterprise was getting in the way of the government's corporate socialism philosophy.

Herb. Knauss

I am so saddened by the personal beating given Janet Martin, nominee for the state Board of Education. What in the world is everyone afraid of, because the woman professes a deep Christian faith? This is the concept on which our country was built and to call it "dangerous, destructive, a secret agenda, racist" is beyond my understanding. And, it proves that she is right. The forces of evil have pervaded our country to an extent most of us won't even admit.

Remember the article by Martin Niemoller of Germany who didn't speak up as each group was arrested because it didn't affect him and when his turn came, there was no one left to speak up? Let me paraphrase: In Arizona, they came for those whose political beliefs differed from theirs and labeled them "extremists," but I didn't speak up because I wasn't an extremist. They gave police the right to search cars without a warrant, but I didn't speak up as I carried nothing incriminating. They gave police the right to confiscate property and bank accounts of suspected drug dealers, but I didn't speak up as I don't deal drugs. They put cameras on street corners to record citizens, but I didn't speak up as I don't speed in my car. Then people were attacked because they were labeled "extremist Christians," but I didn't speak up because I am a moderate Christian.

One day I am going to wake up and find I am falsely accused of extremism, or of being too strong a Christian, and they will have the right to search my property without warrants, take away my free speech and confiscate my property and savings because there won't be anyone left to speak up. I believe it is time for the silent majority to exercise what is left of its free speech and speak out loudly!

Name withheld

Minor Point
Every Thursday, I pick up New Times from any one of nine or 10 distribution points, scan the Letters section, then the contents for the Kid Pics listings. My 7-year-old daughter and I have come to rely on this section for the "can't miss" information about the Valley's plays, shows, festivals, parades and special events. We will typically plan a whole weekend around one or more events from this section.

What happened? Has someone deemed this section to be unappreciated?
If anything, the listings for kids could be more complete. I've noticed significant events for kids go without mention. This could be the responsibility of the organization holding the event. And, as to value, parents read New Times for things to do on the weekend, not the kids.

Robert Schoenlank
via Internet

Editor's note: Kid Stuff listing at the end of the Thrills section contains the information that ran formerly under the headings of Kid Pics and Kid Thrills.


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