The Weekly Dig’s Performing Arts pages have had tumbleweeds blowing through the archives for a while, and we just found out that Carolyn Clay has been let go by the Boston Phoenix.
We had a Stagesource Conference last year in which we, as a theatre community, discussed Boston’s prospects of being known as a "theatre town."
Now we are at a point where not even the alt weeklies seem to be interested in covering the scene here. Jenna Scherer, a young critic with a very sharp style, who was willing to engage with the fringe theatre community, decamped from the Weekly Dig to Boston Herald. Terry Byrne left the Herald and ended up at the Globe. I wonder where Clay will end up?
It is not as if we are suddenly braking from 60 to zero at the Phoenix though. Clay’s column space was condensed considerably a while ago, and she would try to cover up to three productions in the same space one show would formerly be critiqued. Stringers such as Liza Weizztuch, another young voice, appeared less often on the Phoenix’s pages.
The Edge does a very admirable job hustling around to cover theatre and Bay Windows remains fairly consistent, but obviously limited in scope.
When we turn our eyes online, the situation is hopeful, but not completely reassuring. Thomas Garvey’s The Hub Review is a consistent provider of critical coverage of the theatre scene in Boston. Larry Stark’s Theater Mirror keeps on chugging, but Larry has written much about his health and how he has found it very hard to write reviews. So, with Larry’s output slowed and with the sad passing of Will Stackman, the Mirror has lost its two lead work horses. There are still reviews being submitted, but many shows fall through the cracks.
Bill Marx started his ArtsFuse after WBUR pulled the plug on Bill and perhaps on the most forward-looking Arts Pages out of any of the city’s mainstream outlets. (And I say that with ALL seriousness.) However, The Arts Fuse is not, primarily, a theatre page - the last stage review was of the Huntington's Miracle at Naples.
Sandy MacDonald, sometimes freelancer for the Boston Globe, holds court intermittently at Theatermania. (Again her last review there was of <Miracle at Naples. She isn't really broad based though - I think six of her last eight reviews on TM were for Huntington shows.
There are other sites out there that do occasional reviews. For instance, Boston Theatre Reviews is a blog by Monica Pendergast and PT at Large cover theatre as well.
ArtsBoston has officially launched their new website, and it is impressive. More important to this discussion, it has a relatively active “Citizen’s Reviews” section appended to each show. Is this the future? Hard to say.
The landscape of theatre discussion, criticism and journalism HAS CHANGED here in Boston. It isn't speculation anymore; we are definitely on new terrain. And we probably have been for a while now.
I am interested in what people think will happen or is happening.