Friday, December 12, 2008

Standing at the Gate

Critics are apparently the topic of the week in the coffee bar that is my brain.

Critics are an odd appendage to the theatre community. They are (for the most part) as knowledgeable as your given practitioners in the rare case when they aren’t practitioners themselves, yet the hold themselves apart from the process to comment on it. What do I think their role should be in a perfect world?

Like it’s that easy. Different roles for different folks naturally!

First, there is a difference in my brain between reviewer and Critic. so let’s decide, just between you and me, that words mean something and that review and critic, being two different words, mean different things shall we?


Critic to the audience
The critic owes the audience a fair evaluation of a show, but more than a blow by blow. A critic owes more than a see it/skip it. A critics owes the audience a bit of context, a bit of dramaturgy, a bit of perspective on the producing company and their previous work, and why this current work matters or doesn’t

Critic to the Artist
The critic owes the artist as unbiased a view of the art as they can offer, with full disclosure of bias where it exists. The critic owes the same level of discourse to the artist as the audience, and should spare unnecessary cynicism or “snark” as in a searchable world those things become unerasable parts of a performer’s (or companies’) CV.

Critic to the Arts community
The critic is a gatekeeper. They control the only view of this niche world that most people get. Thiers is the king-making  power of The Trusted Opinion. As a part of the arts community they have a responsibility to not be destructive. In my perfect world they are the ombudsman of the arts community.

Reviewer to the Audience, Artist, and Arts community
A fair unbiased accounting of the show. Spare the snark. Recognize your junior gatekeeper status, and do no harm to the community.


Here do a Google Search for The Nina Variations.

How many of the first ten are from reviewers/critics?

FIVE. The others are my company’s website, a ticket giveaway for my production, a press release for an older production, teachers’ materials, Google’s own book search and Dramatists listing for it are 3rd and 4th.

That matters. That’s going to change the opinion of people thinking about doing the show never mind seeing it.

So that’s a start.
What needs to be added?
What needs to be expanded?
Aside from a rubric about always loving your work what do you want of of a critic or reviewer?

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