Theatre News - Criticism: June 2007 Archives
Last week was the week for theater awards in Lansing. Both the traditional daily, The Lansing State Journal, and the alternative weekly, the City Pulse, came out with its theater awards.
The City Pulse awarded Pulsars to any of 10 organizations that their judges felt represented the "best" in a 9-month period. They assigned three judges to attend each show and then tallied point totals from their judging forms. It's judges included their critics and readers from the community who responded to a call for participation. The awards were given out in a dinner ceremony which was open to the entire theater community for the low price of $5 if bought in advance, $10 at the door--a bargain even for starving actors. It was their second time giving out full season Pulsars (they'd given out two summer awards and been bullied into not handing them out last year).
The Lansing State Journal awarded Thespies for the 39th straight year. These awards are open to anyone doing theater in the Greater Lansing area and include "special" awards to recognize theatrical achievements in any area. These awards are decided by a committee that includes all of the staff's critics, arts writers, and a few recruited individuals--one who directs and the other whose background is only that of theater attendee. Committee members nominate, discuss, arm wrestle, and vote on each category individually.
Every year, the awards end up being controversial.
Every day in my work as an arts journalist in Montana, I think about the standards by which I should assess the art that I confront here. Montana theater is not the same as New York theater, for reasons not only of scale but of culture. While in Los Angeles for this year's NEA arts journalism institute in theater, listening to big-city theater journalists and critics talk about the particular challenges of their jobs, this became an even more poignant issue for me. My job is not like their jobs, because our theater is not like their theater and my culture is not their culture.
When I returned to Montana, I was asked to write an essay about my experiences at the institute for Montana Journalism Review, a publication of the University of Montana's journalism school.
I chose to use that soapbox as an opportunity to dive into the issue of what I now refer to as critical relativism. The essay was just published this week. Rather than rehash what I wrote, I thought I'd share the whole thing.
Bloggers We Love
Bridgette Redman and Lansing Theater
Drew McManus' "Neo Classical" at the Partial Observer
Marc Moss (Missoula, MT artist)
Mary Louise Schumacher's "Art City"
Other Great Sites
American Composers Orchestra
Arts & Letters Daily
Center for Arts and Culture
Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive
National Arts Journalism Program
NEA Arts Journalism Institute for Dance Criticism
NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera
NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater & Musical Theater
New Music Box: American Music Center
USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program