#CdnCult Times; Volume 6, Edition 6: CRITICISM

#CdnCult Times; Volume 6, Edition 6: CRITICISM


“When it doesn’t suck, it blows.” Best worst-review I’ve ever gotten.

We can’t help it, theatre makers have a symbiotic relationship with critics. We need their previews and reviews to sell tickets to our shows, and to sell our shows to presenters. There are cities in this country where a good review can make a show, and there are certainly cities where a bad review can break it.

Critics are ambassadors (like it or not) bringing theatre to the general public. What is their role in the changing media landscape?

As newspapers struggle to redefine their niche in the digital age, column-inches devoted to the theatre are disappearing – are the educated individuals writing those columns also endangered? Arguably, the art of criticism itself is threatened, at the same time that platforms for publishing reviews online is burgeoning.

In this issue, Vancouver actor, writer and professor, Jerry Wasserman writes about his work as a critic over the years, moving from radio to print to a self-published website. Eric Coates describes his efforts to improve the quality of discourse from reviewers as well as the better defining the relationship between critics and the Great Canadian Theatre Company. And finally, #cdncult Editor-in-Chief Michael Wheeler challenges the Toronto Theatre Critics Association to join the wider community’s efforts to better reflect the diversity of Canadian experience within its composition.

As it happens, this is a task we at #cdncult failed at in this issue. Instead we have three smart, white dudes talking about theatre criticism.

We can do better.

And we will, because ultimately, the value of criticism within the theatre community is to promote analysis and discourse about the work towards improvement of the work. And like any discourse, conversation is enriched by the variety of voices that contribute to it.



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About the Authors

Michael is Artistic Director of SpiderWebShow, which he co-created with Creative Catalyst Sarah Garton Stanley. He was previously Executive Director and Transformation Designer of Generator, where he led the transition from a fee-for-service model named STAF, to the current capacity-building model it operates on. Since 2003, he has run Toronto-based Praxis Theatre, with which he has directed 14 plays and curated several festivals while writing for and running performance-based websites. He teaches regularly at The National Theatre School and Queen's University, where SpiderWebShow is currently in residence.
With firm footing in performing arts practice and community building, I'm curious and passionate about change, systems, and participation. I'm a producer and an artist. I value collaboration, efficiency, and resourcefulness. Currently Artistic Director of Kingston-based SpiderWebShow Performance, which includes co-curating and producing the Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA). During eight years as Artistic Producer of Neworld Theatre, I collaborated with colleagues to found PL 1422, a shared rehearsal and administration hub in East Vancouver, as well as shepherding the creation and production of over 80 live events – including a series of 11 "podplays" audio plays before podplays were cool. In 2015, I was the inaugural artist in residence on CBC Radio’s q based on my digital project The Apology Generator. My formal training is in arts creation and producing, and I have practical experience managing production projects, festivals, and special events. I'm functionally bilingual in English and French. I'm a parent, a gardener, a cook and have recently started running.