Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Role of the Critic

August 31, 2005

Who should theatre critics answer to? Are we consumer advocates for audiences? Entertainment for our readers? Sounding boards and cheerleaders for artists? Guardians of a higher, academic art form? Never easy to play multiple roles; taken together, however, that’s “constructive criticism.” As my editor always asks: What did we learn?

See also: THE ROLE OF THE THEATRE CRITIC
A speech given by Nick Carroll, Arts & Entertainment Editor, Messenger Newspapers, on October 6, 2002, at the Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Higher, academic art form?

Follow Spot said...

Bad turn-of-phrase. What I meant was a defense I sometimes see of a sort-of arbitrary ideal of what defines good “theatre,” which, to me, sometimes results in an “academic” snobbery rather than appreciating something alternative that truly speaks to the here-and-now. For now, substitute simply “guardians of theater’s art form.”

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about your question since you posted it... I think a critic is meant to be all the things you posited in your initial post. A "Reviewer's" job is to see something and tell the reader if s/he should go see it; a "Critic's" job, however, is to delve deeper into a piece and discuss each aspect and why it did or didn't work. Many will disagree with both, but of the two the Critic's job is the harder in that s/he must take the time to flesh out his or her judgements on a work with well resoned arguments rather than "This troupe is amaturish and only thinks they're actors."

Dan said...

I agree with the above poster wholeheartedly, and I am deeply saddened by the lack of critics in this age. I am sickened more so by the ridiculous amount of reviewers who fancy themselves critics.

Anonymous said...

First and foremost, a reviewer/critic has gotta be true to himself/herself ... a consistent voice is the next best thing to a reasoned argument. At least then the public can gauge their own opinion against the reviewer/critic's.

jeff said...

It's funny, anonymous #3, Steffan Silvis was true to himself, had his own voice and a lot of people hated him for it. But what he did have, a lot of "reviewers" lack: an opinion. It seems like a lot of reviews are mostly just recaps of the plot with a bit of "I liked this" "so and so was good", with no teeth. As much as I disliked a lot of Steffan's making-it-personal approach, he did make you think. And he kept the saying alive: any press is good press.

olga said...

'Seeing the Critics as Critical,' a speech given by Norman Lear to the Arts Critics Group Conference this past May, speaks to the role of critics as having the power "to identify and showcase the art that can dispel the bullshit that afflicts our culture." Nourishment.
http://www.americantheatrecritics.org/Norman_Lear_NCC_speech.pdf