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Criticism

Here, you’ll find content about the art and practice of theatre criticism. Many pieces grapple with questions of how to diversify the field, making it more accessible for young people, queer folx, and critics of color. This section also contains all the pieces of criticism in the Journal, which we call “NewCrits.” NewCrits analyze productions and go beyond “thumbs up, thumbs down” reviews, placing the work(s) in question in a larger, broader context—whether that’s the context of the time or place it’s done in, the artists’ body of work, or its genre. Are you interested in writing a NewCrit? Check out our guidelines and best practices!

The Latest

The Art of Assembly. Political Theatre Today Book Talk
Video
The Art of Assembly. Political Theatre Today Book Talk
Curator and Author Florian Malzacher in Conversation with Art Critic Claire Bishop
Thursday 21 September 2023
New York City
How Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play Lays the Groundwork for Native Artists Like Me
Essay
How Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play Lays the Groundwork for Native Artists Like Me
by Sierra Rosetta
28 August 2023
Negotiating the Migrant Self in Maia Novi’s Invasive Species
Essay
Negotiating the Migrant Self in Maia Novi’s Invasive Species
by Sebastián Eddowes-Vargas
15 August 2023
The Art of Assembly. Political Theatre Today Book Talk
Video

The Art of Assembly. Political Theatre Today Book Talk

Curator and Author Florian Malzacher in Conversation with Art Critic Claire Bishop

Thursday 21 September 2023
New York City

In his book The Art of Assembly. Political Theatre Today curator and author Florian Malzacher surveys theatre today to demonstrate its political potential in both form and content. In a time of wide-ranging crisis, The Art of Assembly is a plea for a strong definition of the political and for a theatre that is not content merely to reflect the world’s ills but instead acts to change them.

Four actors sit on chairs on a set made to look like a children's classroom, smiling and talking with one another.
How Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play Lays the Groundwork for Native Artists Like Me
Essay

How Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play Lays the Groundwork for Native Artists Like Me

28 August 2023

After directing Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play at her midwestern college, Indigenous theatremaker Sierra Rosetta traveled to New York to see the same play on Broadway. She discusses the way this milestone production—which made FastHorse the first known Native American woman playwright on Broadway—and her own work push for a future in which Native theatremakers’ presence on professional stages is standard, not novel.

A woman looks skeptically toward the camera.
Negotiating the Migrant Self in Maia Novi’s Invasive Species
Essay

Negotiating the Migrant Self in Maia Novi’s Invasive Species

15 August 2023

Maia Novi’s testimonial play Invasive Species tells the story of one Argentinean immigrant’s experience constructing her sense of self in the United States in the face of the limitations on her identity that she encounters in her new home. Sebastián Eddowes-Vargas, a Peruvian living in the United States, reviews the production with an eye toward the way that Invasive Species embraces complexity, humanity, power imbalances, and even humor.

event poster for no summary critiquing the critics.
NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics
Video

NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics

The Reception of Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) Theatre in North America

Friday 4 August 2023
California

In collaboration with the Middle Eastern Theatre focus group at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) annual conference, Golden Thread Productions invited Dr. Sarah Fahmy, a decolonial scholartist and co-founder of the Middle Eastern Theatre group at ATHE, and Marina Johnson, a scholar and director, to moderate a conversation on theatre criticism in the Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) artistic and academic worlds across the region and the diaspora today. Panelists discussed topics of cultural competency, the multiple forms of criticism, and the ways that SWANA artists and academics seek to change the game.

A group of people surrounds recording equipments in a radio station.
Turning Political Violence into Entertainment in Hate Radio
Essay

Turning Political Violence into Entertainment in Hate Radio

27 July 2023

Through a combination of testimony and reenactment, Milo Rau’s Hate Radio stages a broadcast from a notorious media operation that spread racist propaganda during the Rwandan genocide. Joseph Dunne-Howrie discusses the way that Rau’s work, when produced in 2023, reveals a contemporary parallel in the rightwing radicalization that is facilitated by networks like Fox News and GB News.

A performer proudly wields a prop weight overhead during a show.
Cornerstone Theater Company Brings Larissa FastHorse’s Wicoun Home
Essay

Cornerstone Theater Company Brings Larissa FastHorse’s Wicoun Home

11 July 2023

Robert Hubbard reviews Larissa FastHorse’s Wicoun, a transformative story of a teen finding power through gender and cultural identity—with the support of some Lakota superheroes.

Three smiling performers wearing feathered halo headbands dance and clap.
Teatro Vivo’s Fully Interactive La Pastorela 2022
Essay

Teatro Vivo’s Fully Interactive La Pastorela 2022

10 July 2023

Genevieve Schroder-Arce discusses her experience attending—and co-creating—Teatro Vivo’s Las Pastorela 2022, which invited audience members to construct the piece and perform it for one another as a way of modeling collaboration among community members.

A man in white robes looks up to the sky.
Staging Dystopias of Desire and the Poetics of Grief
Essay

Staging Dystopias of Desire and the Poetics of Grief

27 June 2023

Theresa May discusses the way that two contemporary plays with dystopian settings—Transmissions in Advance of the Second Great Dying by Jessica Huang and Somewhere by Melissa Treviño Orta—lean away from typical tropes of destruction and individualism by instead centering care, kinship, reciprocity, and interdependence.

A still from Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World.
How Javaad Alipoor’s Fourth World Trilogy Disrupts What We Think We Understand About History, Politics, and the Internet
Essay

How Javaad Alipoor’s Fourth World Trilogy Disrupts What We Think We Understand About History, Politics, and the Internet

14 March 2023

Joseph Dunne-Howrie examines the way that three of Javaad Alipoor’s plays infuse the internet into theatrical performance, creating intersecting narratives that interrogate identity formation in the age of global interconnectivity.

An actor dressed as President Zelensky points a prop gun at an unseen target.
Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival
Essay

Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival

2 March 2023

The Divine Comedy Theatre Festival in Kraków, Poland explored the theme of “Polish Taboo” across its thirty-two productions this year. Howard Shalwitz, who attended the festival as part of an American delegation of artists building connections between the United States and Poland, shares his experience attending the festival.

Building Our Own Tables Season 3 teaser image with guest headshot.
Trust Your Gifts with Kelundra Smith
Podcast

Trust Your Gifts with Kelundra Smith

1 March 2023

This week, Kelundra Smith sits down with Yura Sapi to discuss building her own table as a playwright and shares the process and inspiration behind some of her latest works. Topics for this episode include affirmations, changing hierarchical structures, and moving beyond a sense of urgency.

A man with glasses looks at something outside of the frame.
Grupo Tapa's Papa Highirte: A Brazilian Masterpiece About Bolsonaro’s Fall
Essay

Grupo Tapa's Papa Highirte: A Brazilian Masterpiece About Bolsonaro’s Fall

14 February 2023

Theatre researcher and journalist Eduardo Campos Lima discusses Grupo Tapa’s production of Papa Highirte and explores the history of the powerful play.

A young woman looks to her right.
“Marimacha” Laughs its Way Through Representation of Latine, Black, and Queer Characters
Essay

“Marimacha” Laughs its Way Through Representation of Latine, Black, and Queer Characters

13 February 2023

Daphnie Sicre discusses the way that Latinidad, Blackness, and queerness intersect in “Marimacha,” comedic coming out story about an AfroPanamanian family on their way to a wedding.

Two women stand on stage in front of music stands on microphones.
“Serving Lewks and Puro Class,” Tus Tías Explore the Legacy of Selena
Essay

“Serving Lewks and Puro Class,” Tus Tías Explore the Legacy of Selena

2 February 2023

Trevor Boffone reviews Tus Tías’ The Invocation of Selena, a sketch comedy and cabaret-style show that begins by summoning Latine icon Selena and ends by eulogizing her.

Building Our Own Tables Season 3 teaser image.
Blessings with Brittani Samuel
Podcast

Blessings with Brittani Samuel

1 February 2023

Recently named Edward Medina Prize winner Brittani Samuel joins Yura Sapi to share about her experience building her own table as a theatre critic. Topics in this episode include choosing joy every day, being a child of immigrants, and a shared meditation practice. This episode is dedicated to theare artist and critic Edward Medina, honoring his legacy which brings us all together today.

Building Our Own Tables Season 3 teaser image.
Use Your Voice with Jose Solís
Podcast

Use Your Voice with Jose Solís

25 January 2023

Jose Solís joins Yura Sapi to discuss creating the BIPOC Critics Lab and co-creating the Token Theatre Friends podcast-webseries. This episode’s topics include finding beauty in the internet, how a metaphorical grain of sand can change the world, and a tarot reading for the first three months of 2023.

Two actors in yellow-green outfits standing over another actor in white lying on a table.
Female Stories from Kosovo: How Two Plays Look at the Loneliness of Balkan Women
Essay

Female Stories from Kosovo: How Two Plays Look at the Loneliness of Balkan Women

10 January 2023

Theatremaker verity healey discusses two plays from Kosovo’s 2022 Theatre Showcase that highlight Balkan women’s stories and struggles.

event poster for no summary Critiquing the Critics: The Reception of MENA Productions .
NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics
Video

NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics

The Reception of MENA Productions

Friday 11 November 2022
United States

Golden Thread presented the conversation NO SUMMARY: Critiquing the Critics: The Reception of MENA Productions  livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Friday 11 November 2022 at 11 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 1 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 2 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).

Five people posing for a photo with the Comedy Carnaval banner behind them.
Rejecting Local and National Borders in La Carpa De La Frontera
Essay

Rejecting Local and National Borders in La Carpa De La Frontera

3 October 2022

Theatremaker Maria Patrice Amon shares her experience watching La Carpa De La Frontera at Latinx Theatre Commons’ 2022 Comedy Carnaval and explains the significance of carpa theatre.

Five people on the beach gesturing towards the setting sun.
We Are All Kin to the Cove Brings Climate-Engaged Community Performance to Queens, New York
Essay

We Are All Kin to the Cove Brings Climate-Engaged Community Performance to Queens, New York

22 September 2022

Talia Rodriguez details the generative process for We Are Kin to the Cove, a site-specific, community-engaged performance exploring the historical and contemporary relationships water and humanity at a cove on New York’s East River.

Eight actors dressed in costume singing together on stage.
A Music Man for Deaf Audiences
Essay

A Music Man for Deaf Audiences

6 September 2022

Melissa Lin Sturges shares her experience attending Olney Theatre Center’s bilingual production of The Music Man, which was presented in both English and American Sign Language.

Five women in dresses drinking tea on stage.
Gathering Momentum: Türkiye’s Independent Theatre in President Erdoğan’s Near-Autocracy
Essay

Gathering Momentum: Türkiye’s Independent Theatre in President Erdoğan’s Near-Autocracy

15 August 2022

verity healey describes the power and significance of independent theatre in Türkiye by sharing her experience at the theatre festival, TheatreIST.

A woman in a traditional garb stands outside facing an audience.
“The Ills We Do, Their Ills Instruct Us So”: Indigenous Futurism at the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival
Essay

“The Ills We Do, Their Ills Instruct Us So”: Indigenous Futurism at the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival

25 July 2022

Robert Hubbard discusses the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival production of Othello, which Tara Moses adapted and directed through an Indigenous Futurist lens. The resulting production employed its Shakespearean source text to model solidarity between Tribal Sovereignty and Black Liberation movements.

One actor stands on stage under a spotlight, kicking towards the audience.
Moving Theatre Toward Collective Self-Defense: Virginia Grise’s Your Healing is Killing Me
Essay

Moving Theatre Toward Collective Self-Defense: Virginia Grise’s Your Healing is Killing Me

26 May 2022

Educator and writer Marci McMahon reflects on her experience seeing Virginia Grise’s movement manifesto Your Healing is Killing Me at Cara Mía Theatre Co.

Kunafa and Shay Teaser Image.
Centering Perspectives of Color in Theatre Criticism
Podcast

Centering Perspectives of Color in Theatre Criticism

With Arti Ishak and Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel

4 May 2022

For artists, getting a quality review of their show is often critical to continued success. It can make or break new plays and emerging artists. However, works by BIPOC artists have often been subjected to the white critical gaze in reviews, which has frequently not made any attempt to account for the complexity of culture outside of the reviewer’s own understanding. There has been a major push by BIPOC artists to counter the white supremacy of reviews, including who writes the critiques and what they write about. In this episode, Arti Ishak and Yasmin Zacaria Mikhaiel talk about their experiences as MENA artists and critics, how they negotiate the field of criticism, and what changes can and must be made to the landscape.