Sunday, November 08, 2009

A New Way of Reviewing?

Bill Marx at the ArtsFuse is trying a new type of reviewing system for Theatre:

He is calling the new feature: The Judicial Review:

The inspiration for the Judicial Review is the U.S. Supreme Court. Arts events will be evaluated by a local panels of “judges” who will post majority and dissenting opinions in the form of written reviews or via video- or podcasts. The panel will be made up of a combination of professional critics and non-professional observers.

Our goal is to introduce a supervised space for educational, passionate, and incisive conversation about the arts that draws on the strengths of various levels of expertise. By doing so, it is hoped that the judges will learn from each other as well as offer a variety of perspectives that will invite responses that will deepen readers understanding of the arts and the craft of criticism.

In any trial there is a place for a “Friend of the Court” brief. The Judicial Review will include a space for the artists themselves to have their say, to contribute to the respectful exchange. The arts organization under review will be invited to file opinions.

This idea is my response to the considerable challenges and opportunities that the web poses for criticism of the arts, as well as my belief, after 30 years of writing and reading arts criticism, that the verdict of a review, while essential, is not the most important part of a review. Criticism is at its most vital when it foster spirited dialogue, when critics help us take the arts seriously by connecting creativity with our thinking and feeling selves.

The first review, for Company One's The Overhelming is up now.


Thomas Garvey said...

Odd that the guy who spent thirty years, as he says himself, jabbing artists with the point of his quill, not its feather, should now be peddling criticism by committee. Jonathan Swift, meet Chief Justice Roberts!

Art said...

I'm not sure this experiment is meant to supplant traditional reviewing, but more to go a step further than web aggregation.

And for this, the key piece, to me at least, will be the artist's response.

In the first post, on the Overwhelming, the Judicial Review is similar to The Critic-O-Meter or (With the only difference being that the reviewers were assigned.)

The discussion happening in the comments between the reviewers is valuable.

It will be interesting to to see Company One's response- or even the playwright's response, since most of the criticisms fall on the play.

Thomas Garvey said...

Yes - my gut is that Marx has a yen to promote Company One, for whatever reason, but as long as he gives the same level of attention to other groups, then I've no problem with his format, pompously formulated as it may be. Right now, it's true there's some interest in the discussion of the facts of the Rwandan genocide in the comments; beyond that I don't see too much in the way of aesthetic judgment in the three evaluations that hasn't been offered elsewhere. Indeed, as I read these, I'm beginning to wonder whether the production may be being overpraised, and the script over-criticized (even though that was roughly the thrust of my review, too). As you say, the witness for the "defense" may bring some new insights to bear.