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 ATCA

  

Join Us on Twitter: @theatre_critics and @atca_member
Member Blogroll
David Dow Bentley III is the thepeoplescritic.com, which can also be read at the Houston Chronicle and broadwaystars.com.

Nancy Bishop is editor and publisher of Third Coast Review, a Chicago-centric arts and culture website. You can read her reviews there and her pop culture writing here.

Lindsay Christians is a full-time arts and food writer for The Capitol Times in Madison, Wisconsin. She has written theater reviews there since 2008.

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.

Sandi Durell is publisher, editor, and a critic at Theater Pizzazz which covers Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theater, including openings, red carpets events, and interviews.

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

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.

Aaron Krause is the editor of Theatrecriticism.com, founded by Alan Smason (Steppin’ Out, WYES-TV), which offers original theatre reviews and republishes current critical print works online.

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 is the senior critic (part-time) for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and also appears regularly on KDKA-TV.

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.

 

 

 ATCA’s 2018 annual conference will be held July 10-15, 2018 at American Players Theatre, a classical repertory company in Spring Green, west of Madison, Wisconsin. ATCA members and guests can register here. 

There will be a 2018 New York Weekend Conference, Nov. 2 - 4, 2018. Details to follow.


 

 

For the full text of each Milestone, click on the name; for all these and previous Milestones together, CLICK HERE. They are listed in the order (latest on top) they appeared in the weekly ATCA UPDATE.

 

CHRIS RAWSON, Pittsburgh, PA, is hustling around the country playing catch-up, presenting the August Wilson American Century Cycle Award to theaters that have qualified.

RUSSELL WARNE
, Provo, UT, has just welcomed his second son into what he hopes will be a lifetime of loving theater.
 

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ERICA MINER, Edmonds, WA, has just published Murder in the Pit, a murder mystery at the Santa Fe Opera.

KAREN TOPHAM, Chicago, is actively seeking theatre critics from around the country to become part of the expanded edition of her website, ChicagoOnStage.com. Contact her here.

 

For full text of these and previous Milestones, CLICK HERE.

Do you have a Milestone to share? Member Milestones are generally for Transitions (new jobs, retirements), Achievements (awards, honors), Publications (books, TV specials) and Memorials (obituaries). Write a paragraph and send it here. Include a Twitter address in the paragraph so we can give it wider notice. 

 

 

After more than 33 years and (by her count) 13,000 reviews, the long-standing Chicago theater and arts critic Hedy Weiss has been let go by the Chicago Sun-Times. Reporting in the competing Chicago Tribune, Chris Jones writes that the sometimes controversial critic “fit into the decades-long Chicago tradition of powerful, hard-working and famously independent women writing about the arts, without compromise or apology.” Read Jones here. Here, the Chicago Business Journal reports. Weiss delivered ATCA’s 2015 Perspectives in Criticism talk in New Orleans: click for an audio recording.

As others see us: Amanda Peet on being devastated by a NY Times review and going cold turkey on reviews thereafter, click here.  

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

   

 

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 Contemporary African Drama and Theatre.

 

 

 

 

The 2017 Tony Award for Regional Theater went, on ATCA’s recommendation, to the Dallas Theater Center in Texas.
 
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.

* Previous Pull Quotes are ASSEMBLED HERE 


Past Conferences

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New York Weekend Conference, November 3, 4 and 5, 2017. Details. 

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San Francisco annual conference, 2017

  

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NYC weekend conference, 2016 (for reports and details, scroll down 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

Saturday
Sep202014

ATCA excom protests "Spamalot" cancelation

The ATCA executive committee has joined the protest over the cancelation of a scheduled production of Spamalot at the South Williamsport Junior/Senior High School in Williamsport, Pa., because of, according to principal, Jesse Smith, its “homosexual themes.”

In a Sept. 19 letter to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Stamm and School Board President John Engel, the excom expressed its opposition, saying, “As journalists, we support your students’ First Amendment right to exercise free speech, which does not stop at the doorways of our public schools.” Further, the action misunderstands the artistic and social purposes of satire, musical comedy and education itself.

The letter (click below for full text) was signed by all nine excom members on behalf of ATCA’s nationwide membership of professional print, broadcast and internet theater critics.

In explaining the letter, excom chair Jonathan Abarbanel commented that the South Williamsport school officials “do not seem to understand either the musical or literary purposes of musical comedy, and certainly have failed to recognize the nature of satire, which is central to Spamalot. Yes, the show features two men who marry each other, but at the same time it satirizes gay stereotypes. It also is highly irreverent about disco music, Arthurian legend, armed combat, maiming, the Bubonic Plague, kingship, horsemanship, the preponderance of Broadway producers who are Jews, and God, who is an unseen but often-heard character in Spamalot. ATCA is pleased to join the Dramatists Guild of America in protesting the South Williamsport decision and calling attention to the illogic of it.”

MORE:
For some early background on what has been a much-discussed issue, see Howard Sherman’s blog of Aug. 21

ATCA’s letter: 

AMERICAN THEATRE CRITICS ASSOCIATION 
19 September 2013

Dr. Mark Stamm, Superintendent of Schools  
Mr. John Engel, President, Board of Education 
South Williamsport Junior/Senior High School 
700 Percy Street  South Williamsport, PA 17702

Dear Dr. Stamm and Mr. Engel:

On behalf of the executive committee of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)—the only national organization for professional critics who report across all media—we are writing to express our disappointment in the process and reasoning behind the cancellation of the planned production of Spamalot at South Williamsport High School, due to discomfort over the musical’s “homosexual themes.”

As journalists, we support your students’ First Amendment right to exercise free speech, which does not stop at the doorways of our public schools. In 1988, the Supreme Court decided that censorship of the style and content of student speech must be related to legitimate pedagogical concerns. The assertion of South Williamsport High School principal Jesse Smith that a musical featuring “homosexual themes” would not be appropriate for families or the community at large lacks pedagogical value—unless the goal is to teach your students to discriminate against their LGBT peers and neighbors—and it is at odds with Pennsylvania state law, which upholds same-sex marriages as legal and valid. Censoring productions in this manner also sends a hostile message to South Williamsport’s own LGBT students and families. Are they not members of the community, too?

Spamalot is not a fringe work. Its source material, the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, has delighted high school students since 1975, firmly securing its place in the British and American comedy canons.  The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards (the commercial theatre industry’s highest honor), including Best New Musical, in addition to the Drama Desk Award for best musical. More than two million people saw the original production, and the show continues to play frequently in professional, community, and academic theaters.

To date, it has courted no significant cultural controversy, aside from the one created by South Williamsport school offials. But even if it had, art is not simply passive entertainment—it should also provoke discussion, inspire change, and open minds. Educators do their students no favors when they withhold arts experiences that might challenge their students’ still-developing worldviews. Theatre, with its immersive nature, is above all an exercise in empathy. Student-actors learn to understand and portray another person with his or her own history and perspectives, and audiences are given the opportunity to care about people they might not otherwise meet. To rob your students of this experience does them a grave disservice. It also tells your students that personal squeamishness trumps their access to the same educational opportunities afforded to drama students at other schools.

The several hundred journalist-critics of ATCA ask you to reconsider your actions and re-instate the 2015 production of Spamalot. If we can be of any service in this endeavor, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Abarbanel, Chair of the Executive Committee, Chicago (Windy City Times, WCDB Public Radio), jonnyatca@earthlink.net

Members of the Executive Committee:

Dr. Barry F. Gaines, Albuquerque, NM (ABQFreePress
Lou Harry, Indianapolis, IN (Indiana Business Journal; IBJ.com) 
Wm. F. Hirschman, Plantation, FL (FloridaTheaterOnStage.com) 
Michael Howley, Montgomery, AL (Montgomery Advertiser
Erin Keane, Louisville, KY (WFPL/Louisville Public Media) 
Myrna Petlicki, Skokie, IL (Chicago Footlights; Pioneer Press) 
Tim Treanor, Washington, D.C. (dctheatrescene.com) 
Wendy Rosenfield, Meadowbrook, PA (Philadelphia Inquirer)