Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cultivating Critics

From where will our next theatre critics emerge? If some people had their way, they would continue to come from the restaraunt pages.

But in a more serious response to the question, the Village Voice is launching a new monthly roundup of criticism from students at the more prestigious Drama Programs in the "commutable" area of New York City. (Lucky for ART Institute Student Stella Gorlin that we have the Acela, so she gets to contribute.)

The first entry can be found here:

The Voice states in its intro to the series: "In an era of the theater review as consumer report, our mission is obvious: To expand the theatrical conversation by providing a venue for the next generation of serious theater critics."

The monthly section is called University Wits and this month the critics tackle Richard Foreman's newest play, The Gods are Pounding My Head (AKA Lumberjack Messiah.)

One refreshing thing I noticed right off was the great sense of enthusiasm in the reviews. And note that even in Mark (Yale Drama) Blankenship's mixed review, he goes out of his way to praise what the effort and intentions are.

I am interested if the positive nature of these reviews would be called "cheerleading" by critics such as Bill Marx of WBUR.

The Village Voice offers up this as a forum for the next generation of "serious critics," and I wonder how long it will take these young critics to be jaded.
  • Will they be consigned to lonely Dramaturgy offices?
  • Will their critical skills and budding insights be eventually contorted into masturbatory scholarly argument in obscure theatrical journals.
  • Will they be beaten down by the capsulization pressures of commercial publications?
  • Will they eventually only be seen on a local cable access channel?
  • Will they become Software Marketing Specialists who can write one hell of an advertising copy.

I hope not.

My modest proposal is for them to start laying groundwork for an internet consortium of theatrical criticism.

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