Hartford Stage
Hartford Stage
Scene and Heard
Scene and Heard

Dear Friends of Hartford Stage,

This week Scene and Heard: LIVE! is focusing on the state of theatre criticism, and more specifically, on the lack of diversity and range in the “principal” critical voices.

Reaching out to critics for me is a great challenge. As with most other theatre makers, I vividly remember, and can quote, from my bad reviews over the years (ask me about the review in New York Magazine in 1992 and it can still make me a little weepy). The good reviews, well, they fade far more quickly in my memory. A bad review, a scathing review, can close a show, devastate a career, and “cancel” a voice. And a rave, well, it makes the hit.

All the more important therefore to think about who is writing these reviews, and what their point of view on the work, and the world, may be. Oscar Wilde once wrote that “the critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.” It’s an interesting notion, one that assumes that the critic is working with, even for, the art form, as opposed to being a buyer’s guide for their readers.

As newspapers face enormous economic challenges and cut arts reporters across the country, it’s more important than ever how work is interpreted and shared with audiences. Blogs, webzines, alternative publications and the overall rise of the internet have certainly changed the importance of certain newspapers “of record”, but the challenge of translating the work to its desired audience still exists.

How is the critical establishment rising to the challenges of this time of change and upheaval in our work? Who constitutes this “establishment”, and where does its power reside? Join me for a conversation with some of the great voices tackling the questions of contemporary criticism – who should be interpreting the work, and who is educating whom?

Oh, and of course, Happy Valentine’s Day – remember to give a rave review to your loved ones.


The Bacon Brothers
Raise the Curtain

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