Monday, 3 October 2011

Theatre and critics need each other

Lyn Gardner has written about the New Critics Day in Cardiff that I rushed back from Venice for in The Guardian Stage Blog today, and also mentions the Wales Arts International Critics Scheme that I am currently taking part in. The Wales-based critics met up again this evening to discuss the future. More thoughts and news on this soon.

 Monday 3 October 2011 14.06 BST

Why is National Theatre Wales running a scheme to nurture new critical voices? Because theatre cannot flourish without critics – and vice versa.

Theatre criticism does not exist in a vacuum. It offers a response, and therefore needs something worth responding to. Without Osborne and Pinter, Kenneth Tynan would have been just another mid-20th-century critic admiring the French window sets.
But does it also work the other way? I think it must: I'm not convinced that it's possible for a strong theatre culture to thrive in a place or an area of work where there is little or no critical attention. You only have to look at the Cinderella sectors of British theatre to see what happens when there is an almost complete lack of critical focus. This, in any case, was a question under consideration at the stunning new Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on Saturday in an afternoon called New Critics Day, organised by National Theatre Wales and Literature Wales. It's clearly something that has exercised NTW since its founding, and it's been trying to do something about the state of Welsh criticism through a scheme called New Critics (in which I've participated as a mentor) to help nurture new critical Welsh voices and give them the tools to respond not just to the NTW programme, but also to a broader range of work taking place in Wales. That in turn has spawned another scheme of Young Critics, many still in their teens and early 20s, based around Bridgend. Yet another initiative Wales Arts International has also just begun, aiming to expose critics – and not just theatre critics – to a broad range of work in different countries and cultures."
Read on:

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