Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You Can't Judge a Theatre Town by Its Critics

The Seattle Post Intelligencer just lost Joe Adcock, its drama critic of 26 years.

Here is Brandon Kiley, critic for The Stranger:

Critics aren’t anybody’s favorite people. Last weekend, standing
outside a theater during intermission, I mentioned Adcock’s departure to a prominent local artistic director. He replied in song: “Ding-dong, the witch is dead!”


Then I told him the P-I hadn’t just lost Adcock: They’d also
eliminated his job, and won’t hire another full-time theater critic, due to a hiring freeze. The artistic director’s face fell: “Oh. That’s
terrible.”


In just a few years, Seattle has gone from four full-time theater
critics (one for each of the dailies and each of the weeklies) to two: Misha Berson at the Seattle Times and me. “Does that mean theater in Seattle is shriveling up and dying?” my editor asked when I told him about Adcock.


Um, no. It’s a sign that newspapers are shriveling up and dying.
Seattle still has its Tony Awards, its growing reputation as the best place to premiere pre-Broadway musicals, and its habit of hemorrhaging talent to other cities (congratulations, by the way, to former Seattle actress Heidi Schreck, who moved to New York and just won an Obie Award).


But the newspapers—with their hiring freezes, layoffs, and forced
early retirements—are f****d.

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