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June 29, 2009


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1.) Arlene Croce balances out all the male critics writing in NYC.

2.) Here's where I go when I need acronym translation, FWIW.


Here in the Boston Area almost all the mainstream critics, first string and otherwise, are women.

Boston Globe Lead - Louise Kennedy
Boston Globe Second - Terry Byrne (Former Herald Lead.)

Boston Herald Lead - Jenna Scherer
Boston Phoenix Lead - Carolyn Clay

Of course, some of these are not full time positions. (Carolyn Clay was recentley laid off at the Phoenix, but is still the one writing the drama reviews.)




(These are just suggestions for the blogroll in general.)


Elysa Gardner writes about Broadway for the USA Today. She used to write about off-Broadway as well, but...I don't know what happened with that.

Here in Iowa, the first-string critic at the Waterloo Courier is female. The Chicago Sun-Times has Hedy Weiss. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has Judith Newmark who is the first-string critic and to the best of my knowledge, the only critic they have that writes about stage theater. Of the three critics at the Cedar Rapids Gazette, one of them is female and one of the male critics is a freelancer.

Although, in Iowa, there isn't that much coverage of theater in the theaterosphere. There are two blogs on theater and I write for both of them (one is my own). The other blog is written by several people and I'm pretty sure that the distribution of male and female critics is fairly even.

Most of the theater blogs I read are written by men, but for that matter, most of the blogs I read are written by men, period. Although, I have read some really good theater blogs that are written by women.

Although, I think that a question about female critics is how are they steered towards that career field. How do they decide to be a critic? Which is kind of a general question about critics. Sadly, this is coming from someone who wants to pursue a career as a theater critic for either print or online publications.

David Cote

Helen Shaw is a vital member of the Time Out New York theater team. I also regularly run freelancer reviews by Raven Snook and Diane Snyder. Just FYI. Of course, Alexis Soloski is the heir apparent at the Voice.

Joshua James

NY1 has two female critics (in addition to David) on their theatre show every week.

Let's not forget Sheila has a blog, too. And she rocks.

Joshua James

Monica, you blog in Iowa? Where in Iowa, I'm a former Iowan ...

Elisabeth Vincentelli

The first stop to get an idea of who writes about theater for NY mainstream publications is the NY Drama Critics Circle's roster: http://www.dramacritics.org/dc_current.html. Out of 20 members (+1 emeritus) there are five women, including myself at the Post. I don't think the ratio for bloggers is much better. Books and film criticism seems more balanced, though at least we seem to be on par with pop/rock!

Why there is such a dearth of female critics, considering the well-known stat that women buy 65% of Broadway tickets, is puzzling. (I know B'way is not all of NY theater, but the figure is telling anyway.) Before joining the Post, I spent over eight years as an arts & entertainment editor, and most of the pitches I got were from men. Men were also more aggressive in terms of pitching and following up, and, well, this all translated as more male bylines. I don't know what the solution would be: to encourage women to pitch more? To encourage women to be more assertive with their opinions?

To answer Monica about how one becomes a critic, personally I've always done a couple of things that are stereotypically associated with men: I've always had a geeky, fan-ish approach to obsessively pursuing and watching/listening (movies, records, shows), and I've always been eager to record then share my opinion (I started handwriting reviews of the films I was watching when I was 12). There you go: pretty basic, but of the people I know, more men than women tend to approach art this way. Why that is, I don't know.


In terms of freelancers, there are a couple of female freelancers for the Chicago Tribune and a few that write for Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Reader. I think that there are quite a few female freelancers and female critics, there are just more male critics out there.

Joshua, I live in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, but I write about theater in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area and also about theater at a community theater in Cedar Falls. Although, I'm moving to Chicago in the fall and my blog has been making the transition to talking more about theater there.

Thank you, Elizabeth. At least having read some reviews while on the staff of my high school paper, a film review tended to focus on just the acting or a music review focused on just the lyrics if it was written by almost all of the female writers. The geeky, fan-ish approach you refer to could enable better criticism if someone is more aware of the different aspects of the art form.

Out of curiosity, this might be a bit stereotypical, but do men maybe tend to be more honest with their opinion than women?

Joshua James

Hey Monica, that's great ... I went to grad school at U of I ... Iowa City's my favorite town in all of Iowa.

Paul Rekk

"Iowa City's my favorite town in all of Iowa."

I'd cold-cock anyone who said anything otherwise for bein' a damn fool.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Monica: men and women are equally honest with their opinions, if by that you mean that they write what they think and think what they write. There are differences in approaches but I don't know what they have to do with gender.

Clearly critics are drawing from their personal experience and background to form their opinions. It's ridiculous to think we are unbiased blank slates. For instance, two of my formative experiences are discovering Vincente Minnelli musicals on TV when I was 13 and seeing Ingmar Bergman's staging of King Lear live when I was 19 or 20; I do think a lot of my taste in theater comes from there.

I have more thoughts about men and women in criticism but I don't want to ramble. Perhaps someone needs to set up a panel? Heh heh.

Tom Loughlin

Thanks for posting your thoughts, Issac. The ensuing comments are all quite interesting. I am not an expert on these issues by any means, but I will say that, as someone who went to an all-boys high school on Long Island in the late 60s, one of the things that most attracted me when I became a theatre major in college was the fact that there were all these women electricians, carpenters, stage managers, and I got the impression that in the theatre anybody could do anything. I do harbor the hope that the current discussions surrounding gender issues in the theatre today do more to bring us together than drive us apart as men and women. -twl


... and we've had the caution repeated and repeated during at least the past 50 years that discussion of any contentious issue among the population of people who perform and create will somehow drive us apart.

Isn't the *lack* of discussion just as telling about whether certain groups feel they have a stake in theatre, either as performers, creators or audience?


Isn't the *lack* of discussion just as telling about whether certain groups feel they have a stake in theatre, either as performers, creators or audience?

I certainly think so.

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