Magazine article American Theatre

Editor's Note

Magazine article American Theatre

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

Nothing gets theatre people talking like the topic of criticism. American Theatre's February '08 special section "The Future of Criticism"--headlined by a landmark discussion between three iconic American critics, Eric Bentley, Robert Brustein and Stanley Kauffmann--prompted not only a raft of e-mail comments and letters to the editor but a number of full-fledged articles composed in response. You'll find two of those tell-it-like-it-is submissions in the pages of this issue, both by practicing theatre critics with distinctive points of view about the profession.

The two writers--Misha Berson of the Seattle Times (page 58) and London-based Matt Wolf of the International Herald Tribune (page 60)--are longtime contributors to this publication, but seldom have they taken the opportunity to cast a self-reflective, evaluative eye on the very cultural environments they inhabiton the interface between critic and artist, between public discourse and the work such discourse aims to illuminate. There's a dash of cynicism in both essays--as frequently as not, both writers would probably tell you, criticism as it's currently practiced is flawed, uninformed, too commercially influenced or so tangential to the art as to be mostly irrelevant--but in neither case does negativity win the day. Despite the overheated battles in the London press this past year over the implications of theatre writers' gender and diversity (attributes we're sizing up in presidential candidates on this side of the pond), Wolf detects "grace under pressure" among the best of Britain's critics. …

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