Reviewers and critics as practitioners…

By Megan Mooney

J Kelly Nestruck has a piece up today about the question “Should theatre critics moonlight in the theatre?”

It’s a curious question.  I actually never really thought about it.  I know that I recuse myself from reviewing a show if a friend is involved in it.  I guess I kind of just assume that people govern themselves with these kind of things.  But it’s a good question.

My gut says that it’s possible to do both.  In fact, I’d say there’s a reasonable possiblity that being actively involved in the industry might give a reviewer an interesting perspective on the piece.  Or, it may, as people are concerned, make it so that it can only been described from the point of an ‘insider’ which may not be as useful to readers.

One snippet that really caught my eye was J Kelly talking about how he used to feel that people need to stay ‘objective’

I used to think critics should keep their hands as clean as possible, but living in the UK for a couple of years really challenged my point of view on this issue. The critical culture over there is quite different, dating back to Bernard Shaw, who straddled the critic/artist divide, and newspapers seem less worried about pure objectivity – a fairly mythical concept anyway.

So, what do you think, does it bug you if you find out that your local critic not only writes about theatre, but is also involved in the industry?