My Latest Gig

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but somehow all the stars have aligned and I am making a re-entrance into the theatre community after a long absence. This time as a reviewer for (Cult)ure Magazine.  You can check out some of my reviews of the Fringe Festival there under the theatre tab.  Writing for (Cult)ure has been a pretty sweet gig and I’m fortunate to be working with my friend Kevin who is a fantastic editor. I’ve really enjoyed attending the Fringe and writing about theatre on behalf of (Cult)ure and I look forward to doing more articles/reviews for this excellent publication

You might be interested to know that way back before I even started this blog I wrote a comment at the Ottawa Arts Newsletter about theatre criticism/review (Link).

As you will see from my reviews, I’ve since come around to both Jessica and Sterling’s approach to criticism. Thank you both for informing my thinking on this issue. I am now one of the enlightened 🙂

I am also taking the less conventional approach of inserting myself directing into my reviews and writing about the chance encounters and conversations that make theatre special.  If anyone has any comments on the approach I’ve taken or other review feedback I would be interested to hear it.  Enjoy the Fringe while it lasts! Go out and see some shows!


8 responses to “My Latest Gig

  1. Wayne,
    Thanks for posting this – I hadn’t read Jessica’s piece on reviewing so I’m glad you threw in that link – especially in light of all our recent conversations about reviews.
    I hate to stir things up (or maybe I love to) but I hope that you haven’t completely abandoned your original ideas about reviewing.
    I found myself agreeing with a lot of your original statement:
    -I do think promotion results from engaging in and encouraging discussion
    -I do think the reviewer should be thinking about the audience more than the artist – I do think it is their responsibility to say this is or isn’t worth someone’s time and money (in a carefully constructed and articulate review that takes all aspects of the production into consideration)
    -and most importantly, I do think it is impossible to cater to both audiences precisely because the chances of an artist, especially at this stage of their process, actually taking constructive criticism and incorporating it into their work, are slim to none. The advice a reviewer provides should be for the audience, not for the artists.

    Of course there is no reason to be nasty, there is never a reason to be nasty unless you are just a nasty person. But it is important to be honest and thorough. You can’t do that if you worry too much about how the artist will react to what you say.

    I also think it is good, if you have the chance, for a reviewer to talk to the artists- the more you know about a person or a project, the better your review will be.

    And it is great to insert yourself into reviews because it gives it context – if a reader knows more about who you are, they understand more about where your recommendations are coming from.

    So that’s my opinion and yet, it doesn’t change my question: should theatre be reviewed? This is a very different question from how should theatre be reviewed – and I have this question because of my belief in deepening the engagement between artist and audience.

    There are lots of ways to spark and encourage conversation about a project, without actually reviewing it. And because theatre especially is so transient – the experience of one reviewer one night will in no way be the same as another on another night. Theatre is never the same way twice! And so what you are reviewing is an experience – and is that fair?

    Or should we be getting rid of it in favour of other ways of profiling, discussing, and providing context to a particular work?

    Would readers be able to get beyond the “is it good or bad” dichotomy?

    Would actors still pine for someone in the media just to tell them that they’re good?

    These are the questions that have been plaguing me lately.

    P.S. What has a girl gotta do to get on your blogroll?

    • Thanks HM for replying. I’ve really enjoyed the discussions we’ve had during the Fringe on what theatre criticism/reviewing should look like and whether or not it is necessary. You raise some interesting points for discussion. I hope other people chime in here as well as I am trying to puzzle a lot of this stuff out myself.

      First off as a point of clarification: I don’t think Sterling, Jessica and I were ever that far apart in our views. I was pretty much 90% in agreement with both of them. At the time, I took issue with the critic “as friend or advisor” to the artists. It was my experience that artists rarely took criticism constructively and therefore the only influence a critic or reviewer had was over the potential audience.

      This is from the comment section to Sterling’s approach to criticism. A link is in the original post:

      “To ignore the artists, as you suggest, would be as inappropriate as ignoring the fact that “the audience” includes persons who might be specifically offended by certain themes in the reviewed play and the critic’s own piece. We both agree a good writer must take into consideration his audience and, for me, a critic’s audience will always include the artists who are reviewed. The artists are of course not the whole of the audience — insularity must be avoided — but they are a part of it too.”

      I have come around to this way of thinking. Thanks to Jessica and Sterling.

  2. Alllllsome news that you’re back in theatre hood, and kicking it Wayne-style. Congrats.

  3. Thanks Kara. I’m still just visiting the hood (reviews are a slightly different game),but I’ve definitely enjoyed the trip. When I direct my show it will be more of a splash in the scene 🙂

    I helped Sterling prepare for a few auditions recently. It felt great!
    Who knows I might even get the acting bug again. At Fringe I ran into a few people I was in plays with years ago. Started to get me thinking.

  4. nadinethornhill

    “I am also taking the less conventional approach of inserting myself directing into my reviews and writing about the chance encounters and conversations that make theatre special.”

    It’s the elements of your reviews I enjoy the most. Well that, and the nice things you said about me. But reading anecdotes about your interactions humanizes you in a way that’s comforting and fun to read.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Thanks for the feedback Nadine. Meeting you was one of the highlights of the Fringe for me. Some would say these kind of interactions with cast/writers etc. calls my objectivity into question and impacts negatively on my review. I disagree.

    I feel it’s worth the risk and ultimately makes the reviews way more interesting. I’m glad it is these aspects that you enjoy most.

  6. sterlinglynch

    I enjoyed your reviews and am pleased to hear my thoughts on the subject had some influence in producing your fine work. I also think the “imbedded reviewer” stuff is great.

  7. I like that description: “imbedded reviewer”.

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