The Playgoer: An Indie Theatre Guide

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

An Indie Theatre Guide

The race is on at New York Magazine to replace Jeremy McCarter--who has taken some Frank Rich-esque cultural criticism gig at Newsweek.

(Because just having a theatre critic would be so passe for them. Unlike, say, print magazine newsweeklies...)

Eric Grode (formerly of the former New York Sun) makes an entry by introducing New York Mag readers to a world beyond Broadway-and even Manhattan. Familiar names, perhaps, to regular readers of this blog, but a useful primer for those still stuck in midtown, or from out of town.

Genltemen and ladies...start your engines!


Theater of Ideas said...

I'm glad to see Eric is expanding horizons at New York Mag. He would be a good pick. Though Eric, if you read this - I love the Brick, and they deserve full kudos, but technically the Havel Festival was an Untitled Theater Co. #61 event and the Brick and the Ohio were the two main venues.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see this be a competition. Wouldn't it be great if they all continued to share the pages so there would be several viewpoints in the mix instead of one anointed "winner" who got the prime assignment and real estate week after week?

Anonymous said...

As a consumer of theatre criticism, I'm not so sure.

The advantage of getting a steady weekly dose of a single critic (as opposed to several in rotation) is that it gives readers a chance to get familiar with the writer's style and taste. And to place reviews in that context

Of course, it helps if you get the right critic. And I guess it only matters to real theatre buffs who are paying attention to the bylines.

Anonymous said...

I think we get pretty good at knowing the differences between, say, Manohla Dargis and A O Scott, and to placing their views in context. It's helpful to mix it up a bit, I think. No one critic can please/provoke everybody. Some theater pages USED to have several more or less equally billed theater critics in rotation and it was healthy for theater and for criticism and not confusing. (There were like eight at the Voice in the 80s!)

Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong: If the New York magazine slot rotated among, say, Grode, the Playgoer and David Cote, I think that would be great.

But eight critics? That feels like too many. My worry (again, from a theatre buff, consumer perspective) is that I wouldn't be able to keep the track records of the critics straight in my head.

So I wouldn't know where anyone was coming from.

That's not the end of the world, obviously. But I think there's real value in getting to know a critic's perspective, and having a kind of (one-sided) dialogue with that point of view over time.

Aaron Riccio said...

Agreed; there's plenty of value to knowing where a critic's personal biases lie--for instance, I saw "The Only Tribe" last night, and didn't like it. But those who have read me before know that it has nothing to do with not liking dance--if anything, I'm usually more lenient on aesthetically pleasing work. I'd like to think that my background, then, gives the final opinion more weight.

In any case, I don't think there's anything wrong with rotating the slot, but I do think critics--as individuals--are the ones who could most benefit from having a blog or at least an archive that is easily accessible to the casual reader. Some sort of "contextualizer" if you will.