ATCA

The American Theatre Critics Association, Inc. is the only national association of professional theatre critics. Our members work for newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and on-line services across the United States. Membership is open to any writer who regularly publishes substantive pieces reviewing or otherwise critically covering theater.

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Join Us on Twitter: @theatre_critics and @atca_member
Member Blogroll

Nancy Bishop reviews Chicago theater for gapersblock.com and for her own blog.

Lindsay Christians writes theatre reviews at 77 Square; also arts blog On the Aisle; The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal, Madison.

David Cote blogs, reports on theater and reviews Broadway, Off and Off-Off productions for Time Out New York and davidcote.com.

Harry Duke covers theatre throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. His essays and reviews can be found on the For All Events website and in the Sonoma County Gazette.

Michael Grossberg  writes on theater, comedy and the arts in Theater Talk, for the Columbus Dispatch.

Melissa Hall writes theatre reviews for the blog Stage Write. She mainly attends Indianapolis events, but also covers other Midwestern venues when possible.

Jay Handelman writes  News, reviews and opinion for the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Pam Harbaugh’s blog, Brevard Culture, offers reviews, commentary and links in arts and culture primarily for residents of Brevard County and the Orlando area.   

Lou Harry  writes Lou Harry’s A&E: opinion, debate and discussion on arts and entertainment for the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Bill Hirschman is editor, chief critic and reporter for Florida Theater On Stage.

Chris Jones writes reviews, interviews and commentary for Theater Loop at the Chicago Tribune.

David Lefkowitz publishes the theater website TotalTheater.com, co-publishes the theater journal Performing Arts Insider, and reviews on his weekly radio show, Dave’s Gone By.

Jack Lyons covers the theatre scene for the Desert Local News. Jack is based in Desert Hot Springs and covers the entire Coachella Valley and the rest of Southern California including select productions in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and San Diego.

Katherine Luck writes news and reviews of theatre in Seattle, Portland, and around the Puget Sound at Pacific NW Theatre.

Jonathan Mandell reviews Broadway, Off-Broadway and independent theater productions, and covers theater for a variety of publications, including Playbill and American Theatre Magazine.  He blogs at New York Theater and Tweets as @NewYorkTheater.

Andrew McGibbon writes Theatre Opinion, News and Information in TheAndyGram, based in NYC.

Kathryn Osenlund reviews Philadelphia theater productions and some New York theater festivals for www.curtainup.com. She also writes for www.Phindie.com —independent coverage of Philadelphia and arts, and tweets as @theatrendorphin.

Rick Pender edits   The Sondheim Review, a quarterly dedicated to the musical theatre’s foremost composer and lyricist.

Christopher Rawson contributes to OnStage Journal and OnStage podcasts and reviews in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Wendy Rosenfield covers drama, onstage and off, in Drama Queen and the Philadelphia Inquirer

Michelle F. Solomon is a critic, reviewing professional theater and professional touring productions, for Florida Theater On Stage and miamiartzine.com.

Martha Wade Steketee writes reviews, interviews, and commentary on Broadway, Off Broadway, regional theatre, and film for Urban Excavations in New York City.
Steve Treacy is the primary theatre critic for The Port Townsend Leader. Find his reviews of Pacific Northwest shows at ptleader.com.

Lauren Yarger  reviews Broadway and OB for Reflections in the Light and reports on pro theatre and arts in Connecticut Arts Connection.

 

 

San Francisco Annual Conference, June 15-18, 2017: The whole, mouth-watering experience is now available for your consideration. ATCA members click here! 

 

 

International

See ATCA International for news of the International Association of Theatre Critics from the ATCA members who represent us there. See also the IATC’s own site (just [2017] handsomely redesigned) and its web journal, Critical Stages, where the current issue deals at length with Theatre and State

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Critics in the news

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Why is Lyn Gardner sad?

Why is Lyn Gardner happy?
The first Lyn appeared in The Stage from London, March 14, with this story — Journalist and critic Lyn Gardner’s theatre blog for the Guardian had been cancelled.

… The second Lyn appeared in The Stage, March 16, with this followup: “More than 40 UK theatres, including the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sheffield Theatres and the Royal Exchange, have signed a letter to the Guardian calling on it to reinstate Lyn Gardner’s theatre blogs.”

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And just previously, in N.Y… . we had the Charles Isherwood imbroglio, and the followup flap over a NYT “Big River” review.

Martha Steketee’s accumulating interviews of critics for The Clyde Fitch Report (click for index):


 

      

The 2016 Tony Award for Regional Theater went, on ATCA’s recommendation, to New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse.
 
Elsewhere (off)site: for the website of the Drama section of the (British) Critics’ Circle, click here.

 

{For collected Pull Quotes going back to July, 2012, CLICK HERE.} 

I “believe in culture as a social justice and social change project, which requires not just looking at how ‘good’ a performance is, but at what it does in the world.” — Jill S. Dolan, critic for “The Feminist Spectator” (Princeton University, Dean of the College).

“The Internet allows an avalanche of opinion for infinite sources, many of them rubbish, mean-spirited and lazy. But there’s some terrific writing out there too, and best of all there are so many new ways of reviewing.” — Frank Rizzo, 33 years as Hartford Courant critic, now writes for Variety and many more.

“You go wanting to fall in love with a production and that is so rare. I wanted to be smart and reasonable in my writing, to steer people towards the truth, and also had a lot of empathy for artists. I knew pretty soon formal criticism wasn’t for me.” — Eliza Bent, playwright and arts writer, American Theatre, TDF Stages, etc

* Previous Pull Quotes are ASSEMBLED HERE

ATCA members: Send us material for the Members’ Milestones page.


Past Conferences

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NYC weekend, 2016 (for reports and details, scroll down on central column)



2016 annual conference in Philadelphia, April 6-10. Some coverage: day one, day two, day three-A, day three-B, day four, day five. Full schedule here

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2015 NYC Weekend Conference
Sherry Eaker & Ira Bilowit, chairs

 

2015 New Orleans Conference 
Alan Smason, chair 

 

2014 Weekend Conference
New York City
 

2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Humana Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, April 2-6
; chair, Jonathan Abarbanel.

2013 ANNUAL CONFERENCE, CATF, Shepherdstown, WV, July 17-21 — Details here; Tim Treanor, Chair

Logo by Tim Menees after Honore Daumier

2013 WEEKEND CONFERENCE
Indianapolis, Indiana
March 21-24, 2013
Lou Harry, Chair 

2012 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Chicago, June 13-17, 2012
Jonathan Abarbanel, Chair
See ATCA BLOG for short takes

Milwaukee Add-On
Anne Siegel, Chair
June 17-20, 2012

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2012 WEEKEND MEETING
Colorado New Play Summit
Denver Center Theatre Company, Feb 10-12, 2012

2011 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Ashland, Oregon July 6-10, 2011
Chris Rawson, Chair 

Logo by Tim Menees after Honore Daumier

2010 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Conn.
Chris Rawson, Chair 

Playwright and critic

Playwright and two critics

Check out: ATCA Blog — scroll back for accounts of ATCA/Ashland, ATCA/O’Neill, more on the Pulitzer controversy, also from Humana and Denver festivals

 

 

Past event logos

 

 

(above) Sarasota, 2009. 

 

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Fun ‘n Games

Honest-to-Goodness Theater Geek Trivia Contest, Florida Theatre On Stage, Bill Hirschman, ed. (includes links to answers)

Round One.
Round Two

Thursday
Mar162017

Are you going to San Francisco?

JUNE 15-18, 2017 • SAN FRANCISCO •  #ATCA-SF17

(see the weekly updates, below) 

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ATCA’s annual conference dovetails with the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, so pack your tie-dye and put flowers in your hair for three days of theatre and mind-expanding sessions in the foggy City by the Bay! A lot has changed since ATCA last visited San Francisco in 2004. The big-ticket items include major new theater spaces, up to a dozen mouth-watering titles at the leading companies, and a half-dozen exciting panels, from new takes on Shakespeare to a new age in theater sound, along with a valuable CityPASS, great food, parties, networking … PLUS an incredible rate at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, right in the center of the theater district. Also SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS for those writing travel stories.

ATCA members click here for a more detailed description and info on how to register (early bird fee $195, April 15 deadline) and reserve a room. The official schedule runs from 5 pm, Thursday to Sunday noon, so a three-night stay will deliver the full conference experience. Email questions here and we’ll answer directly. The best questions will turn up in the weekly ATCA-SF17 newsletter.

3/27 Newsletter (click here): Broadway gets Bette, but we have a real matchmaker!

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3/19 Newsletter (click here): The early birdman of Alcatraz

Thursday
Mar162017

Boot camp: National Critics Institute at O'Neill Theater Center

Accepting applications March 15-25 for this summer’s session, July 1-15.

One of the O’Neill Theater Center’s oldest programs, NCI is a two-week residential workshop and conference, designed for arts writers and critics looking to strengthen their skills in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced industry. The Institute convenes concurrently with the National Playwrights Conference and the National Music Theater Conference. Director Chris Jones, critic and columnist at the Chicago Tribune, leads America’s leading boot camp for arts writers, offering an intensive course of study for writers of all experience levels, especially for those in mid-career. There’s a world-class faculty composed of America’s leading arts critics. There’s scholarship money, some courtesy of ATCA. And there’s a beach. Read more here.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Lauren Yee wins 2016 Primus Prize of $10,000; submissions being accepted for 2017

March 14, 2017 — Playwright Lauren Yee has been awarded the 2016 Francesca PrimusPlaywright Lauren Yee Prize for her play in a word. Jointly sponsored by ATCA and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, the Primus Prize is given annually to an emerging woman playwright. Yee will receive the $10,000 award check immediately and be officially celebrated at an upcoming ATCA conference.

Yee was selected by an ATCA committee of six. led by Barbara Bannon, from seven finalists announced in January, who were in turn chosen from 26 playwrights submitted.

In a word is about the grief of a couple at the disappearance of their seven-year-old adopted son, but it is equally about language. “To me, the funny and the painful go hand in hand,” Yee says. Her play was developed in readings on both coasts, had a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere and is published by Samuel French. For a full press release with further details, click here.

Submissions are now being accepted through May 1 for the 2017 Primus Prize. Playwrights may self-submit. Click here for a description of the process.

Friday
Mar032017

Six finalists named for $40,000 Steinberg/ATCA new play award

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award recognizes playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New YorkJim Steinberg City during 2016. The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each will be presented April 8 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival.

The six finalists (alphabetically by playwright, with name of the theater where the play premiered) are: Michael Cristofer, Man in the Ring (Court Theatre, Chicago); Nate Eppler, The Ice Treatment (Actors Bridge Ensemble, Nashville); Tracy Letts, Mary Page Marlowe (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago); David Rabe, Visiting Edna (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago); R. Eric Thomas, Time Is On Our Side (Sympatico Theatre, Philadelphia); and Lauren Yee, in a word (National New Play Network).Lou Harry

The finalists were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members and evaluated by a committee of 17 ATCA members led by Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal/IBJ.com. Click here for the full press release, including brief descriptions of the plays. For the history of the award, click here.

Wednesday
Mar012017

A critical flap du jour: "Big River," NYT, critic, producer, editors . . . 

As a sort of pendant to the vacancy in the Times’ critic crew (scroll down three items) — because otherwise Isherwood would presumably have reviewed the Encores! “Big River,” Feb. 8-12 — artistic director Jack Viertel wrote a crushingly condescending response to the review by Laura Collins-Hughes. Most admirably, the Times editors spoke up in her defense. Read the review first, then Playbill tells the story. Finally, give yourself the treat of a wry British view. Perhaps A. Pope (not a pope) sums it all up best, “to crush a butterfly upon a wheel.”

Sunday
Feb262017

Report from Belgrade: Marie Kilker on ATCA abroad

Also: “Immigration problems” for Thalia Prize Winner (see below)

Last fall’s 2016 AICT-IATC world congress was held inMichael Howley, Noura Erica Jenkins (the child), Ivan Medenica, Jeffrey Eric Jenkins and Marie J. Kilker at the 2016 World Congress in Belgrade. Photo: Katayoun H. Salmasi conjunction with the Belgrade International Theatre Festival. Joining ATCA International Chair Jeffrey Eric Jenkins in representing ATCA were Marie Kilker and Michael Howley. Marie has posted a detailed report on our International page. (The standing ATCA International link is on the right-hand column on our home page, along with a link to the new international website and its journal, Critical Stages.)

Feb. 22: On their Facebook page, 2014 Thalia Prize laureate Eugenio Barba and his company Odin Teatret announced that they “had to cancel [their] tour to Miami because of immigration problems.”

Thursday
Feb232017

Excom busy with plans . . . 

At its January meeting, the ATCA Excom handled reports on the Primus and Steinberg prize deliberations, regional conferences and workshops, establishment of a team dealing with ATCA’s digital presence and a plan for a major membership drive. The minutes are available in the Members Only area.
 
In the wake of the decision by the general membership in Philadelphia to broaden the criteria for membership, Excom chair Bill Hirschman has appointed an ad hoc committee to prepare for a major membership drive. Headed by J. W. Arnold of South Florida Gay News, it includes Mark Lowry of Theatre Jones and Hirschman, in a apacity he refers to as “ex-officio kibitzer.” Contact Hirschman with any ideas.
Tuesday
Feb072017

Isherwood leaves NY Times; paper affirms ideals of theater criticism

SOME FOLLOWUP STORIES

Update, March 1: High profile playwrights (Marsha Norman, David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Doug Wright, etc., etc.) are among 800 signers of a petition to the N.Y. Times to fill the second string theater critic slot with a woman or transgender person of color, according to Philip Boroff’s piece in Broadway Journal

Reaction,  Feb. 23: Some obvious lessons.

Update, Feb. 22: A seemingly well-sourced story by Boris Kachka in “Vulture” discusses the background of Charles Isherwood’s firing.

Feb. 7: Charles Isherwood has left the New York Times, where he had been No. 2 theater critic since 2004. This wouldn’t normally be a headline on the ATCA site, except for this good news: the Times intends to replace him, rather than falling back on freelancers, and their job description is a strong statement of the value of theater criticism and their commitment to it.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan312017

ATCA bares all

To make ATCA activities more open for members, the minutes of all 2016 Executive Committee meetings — in(No, this is not Barbara Bannon) person and by conference call — have been posted to the Members Only section of the website. Members need to sign in using their email address and password. Once in, select the “ATCA MEETING MINUTES” page from the left side menu. Each meeting’s minutes, prepared by ATCA Secretary Barbara Bannon, are available for reading online or by downloading a .doc file. ExCom members welcome comments by any member. For a list of ExCom members with email addresses, click the “Leadership and Committees” page under “About ATCA” on the navigation bar. Any member needing password assistance can contact ATCA Operations Manager, Robert Sokol.

 

Monday
Jan232017

Seven women playwrights named as finalists for 2016 Primus Prize

ATCA has just announced the seven finalists for the 2016 Francesca Primus Prize, given annually to an emerging woman playwright. Jointly sponsored by ATCA and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, it carries an award of $10,000. The winner will be announced later this year.

The seven finalists are Mia Chung for “You for Me for You,” Cheryl Davis for “Maid’s Door,” Laura Jacqmin for “Look, we are breathing,” Martyna Majok for “Ironbound,” Melissa Ross for “Nice Girl,” Stephanie Walker for “The Art of Disappearing” and Lauren Yee for “in a word.”

The finalists were selected from 26 applicants by a nationwide committee of critics, chaired by Barbara Bannon (Salt Lake City, UT). For descriptions of the plays, names of the theaters where they premiered and the members of the award committee, click here. For a fuller description of the award, with information about applying and a list of previous winners, click here.

Sunday
Jan082017

A new look at the loss of full time critic slots at American newspapers

The Columbia Journalism Review has a thought provoking piece by Boston’s Jeb Gottlieb, former music and theater writer for the Boston Herald, under the apocalypitic title, “Curtains fall on arts critics at newspapers.” Under the subsection on “the end of the age of the critic,” he provides statistics on the decline of full time paid positions. He then discusses the ramifications not just for the displaced critics but for society at large, under “what is lost.” We link to it on our Criticism in Controversy page (under the Commentary tab, above), but the full feature can be read here.

Monday
Jan022017

IATC Young Critics Seminar in Poland in October, 2016

ATCA’s Russell Warne (managing editor, Utah Theatre Bloggers Assn.) files a very interesting report on the YCS he recently attended in Poland, commenting

IATC Young Critics’ Seminar in Wroclaw, Poland, 2016, left to right: Renan Ji (Brazil), Lucia Galdíková (Slovakia), Klaudia Antal (Hungary), Russell Warne (U.S.), Ilze Ļaksa-Timinska (Latvia), Octavian Saiu (moderator, Romania), Maia Kanchelashvili (Georgia), Iiris Viirpalu (Estonia), Albena Tagareva (Bulgaria), and Radka Kunderová (Czech Republic).especially on the similarities and differences between the concerns and issues addressed there and in the U.S. (To read, cick link here or below.) Such seminars are sponsored irregularly by the International Association of Theatre Critics, of which ATCA is the American affiliate. Expenses (including housing and some food) are generally paid by the hosts, and ATCA or its Foundation can often help with travel. Watch the ATCA eBlasts for info on future seminars, or keep an eye on the IATC website.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan022017

Fourth and final video of NYC conference panels available in members only area

Members may view the fourth featured ATCA/NY video here (login required): 


“Qu’est-ce que c’est Cabaret?” — Top cabaret artists discuss what exactly makes this art form so special. Panelists are Klea Blackhurst (most recently, Hazel, at Chicago’s the Drury Lane), Jeff Harnar, Laurie Krauz, and Kim David Smith. Moderator: Gerry Geddes, director/writer.

Thursday
Dec222016

Third Video from ATCA's New York Conference Available in Members Only Area

Members may view the third featured ATCA/NY video here (login required):

During ATCA’s conference in New York in October, Matt Windman, author of The Critics Say … 57 Theater Reviewers in New York and Beyond Discuss Their Craft and Its Future, moderated a discussion between panelists Peter Filichia, Elysa Gardner, Jeremy Gerard, Jesse Green, Linda Winer, each a well known and respected member of our profession. The video of that session has now been posted in the Members Only area for those who either couldn’t attend the event or want to listen again to the views expressed.

Thursday
Dec152016

Deadline looms: nominations due for Steinberg/ATCA and Osborn awards

Reminder for ATCA Members: The New Play Committee is at work reading recommended plays for the 2017 Steinberg/ATCA and Osborn Awards (read on for the parameters). If you’ve seen or read a truly excellent play by an American writer that had its world premiere at a professional theater in 2016, please drop a note ASAP to Lou Harry with info. (The $40,000 Harold & Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award recognizes new American plays not yet produced in N.Y., and the $1,000 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award recognizes new plays by playwrights who have not yet achieved a level of national recognition. Click the links for fuller descriptions and lists of past winners. NOTE that the premieres must be in 2016, but the committee may accept nominations into early January.)

 

Friday
Dec092016

Second Video from the New York Conference is Available for ATCA Members 

Members may view the second featured ATCA/NY video here (login required):

See projection designers Wendall Harrington (“All the Way,” Head of Projection Design, Yale School of Drama) and Peter Nigrini (“Dear Evan Hansen”) and sound designers Jill BC Du Boff (“Hand to God”) and John Gromada (“The Elephant Man”) discuss their crafts during ATCA’s conference in New York in October.  

Monday
Nov282016

Alice Carter dies, a leader of both ATCA and its Foundation

Alice Carter, 1946-2016A passionate, lively personality, Alice served ATCA as its hard-working secretary, c.2000-04, then as President of Foundation ATCA for several years thereafter, and she was instrumental in the publication of ATCA’s Under the Copper Beech: Conversations with American Theater Critics, ed. Jeffrey Jenkins (2004). She died Nov. 26, age 69, following a stroke. ATCA members may want to write her husband, Rod Carter, at 119 Hawthorne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15209. Click here for her obituary

Thursday
Nov102016

View the ATCA/NY "From Page to Stage" video now

Panel #1 — “From Page to Stage: The Journey of a New Musical.” We will follow the journey of Dear Evan Hansen (opens on Broadway, Dec. 4) from the time it was simply an idea to its current production. Panelists include the musical’s writers (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, music & lyrics; Steven Levenson, book), along with lead producer Stacey Mindich.  Moderator: Peter Marks (Washington Post).
Friday
Nov042016

ATCA/NY conference jam packed with substance and frivolity

WHAT A SWELL PARTY IT WAS! Last weekend’s ATCA/NY conference (Oct. 28-30) was chock-full ofListening to the Q Brothers at the Sardi’s Luncheon with the Stars.enlightening, lively panel discussions, a tour of The Players, and other special events. (Scroll down our home page to find the dauntingly full schedule.)Denis Arndt (“Heisenberg”) with William Finn, Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht.

Organizer Supreme Sherry Eaker writes to thank all who attended (probably all still recovering from all the running around, in addition to going to the theatre every night, but who said a theater critic’s life was easy? — OK, we exaggerate), with “a special thank you to those who’ve written me such lovely and appreciative notes.”Alan Smason (New Orleans) and Linda Sherbet (Atlanta) with Christopher Hampton and his partner Tianna.

The most festive event, as always, since the N.Y. meeting’s inception c.1980, was ATCA’s traditional Brunch (now Luncheon) with the Stars, Saturday noon at Sardi’s. Here are some pictures, evidence that the special attraction this Director Diane Paulus (“Waitress”) and Howie Shapiro.year was a number of women directors, a far cry from the years not so long ago when a Susan Schulman, Susan Stroman or even Kathleen Marshall would feel like a solo act.

(All pictures are courtesy of Evan Seplow/StageBuddy.com.) 

Director Josie Rourke (“Liaisons Dangereuses”) with ATCA chair Bill Hirschman

Soon we hope to have links here to videos of the panels as well as to columns and articles by ATCA members. You can also check the ATCA FB page. Mandy Gonzalez (“Hamilton”) with Jonathan Mandell

Friday
Sep302016

2016 Theater Hall of Fame inductees announced

Producer Terry Hodge Taylor has announced the eight 2016 inductees for the Theater Hall of Fame: actors Glenn Close, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Phylicia Rashad; producer Paul Libin, book writer Joe Masteroff, playwright Marsha Norman, lyricist Tim Rice and costume designer Catherine Zuber. They will be inducted Nov. 14 at the Gershwin Theater, where the more than 500 previous members of the Hall adorn the walls of the upper lobbies in letters of gold. ATCA members constitute the largest part of the annual electorate.