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

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.

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 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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Jesse Green named NY Times “co-chief theater critic” with Ben Brantley, filling slot left empty by firing of Charles Isherwood. Read NYT announcement-justification-trumpeting here. Roundtable discussion of why this is a disappointment to many, here. Read substantial interview with Green, addressing all the issues, here.

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

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Scroll down or click here for 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

Friday
Jul222016

ATCA legend Ira Bilowit dead at 90

Go to the N.Y. Times obit to sign the guestbook.

Scroll to the bottom of the extension of Bill Hirschman’s testimonial to find the separate “How Ira Bilowit Saved the Drama Desk from Oblivion!” by Glenn Loney.

ATCA chair Bill Hirschman writes:

Ira J. Bilowit, the esteemed arts journalist of New York City and good friend to most of ATCA and many more, passed Ira Bilowitaway July 22 at age 90.

An ATCA member since 1976, Ira was instantly recognizable at any gathering with a broad welcoming smile, bright eyes, feisty attitude, silver goatee and a willingness to share his encyclopedic knowledge with anyone who asked. He could be counted on to hold court in the hospitality suite until younger members faded away.

His indefatigable service to ATCA included working with Sherry Eaker to create the wonderful New York conferences, especially lining up luminaries for the Sardi’s luncheon. He had volunteered in Philadelphia last spring to help with the upcoming New York meeting. His career and many services to ATCA were honored in April 2014 when he was given an emeritus membership. 

Ira made no secret in the past year that he was in ill-health that included kidney issues; he was briefly in intensive care earlier this summer but then released to rehab.

Ira was also a former vice-president of the New York Drama Desk and a member of The Dramatists Guild and the International Association Of Theatre Critics. His lengthy career in arts journalism encompassed work as a theater critic, feature writer and editor. He served as reviewer and an editor of Show Businessi, 1953-1958 and managing editor, 1961-1963. He was a contributing editor to Back Stage, 1980-2006, and editor-publisher of New York Theatre Review, 1976-1980. His extensive freelance work was seen in American Way Magazine, Theatre Crafts and Other Stages. He was still working in recent years, such as contributing a Metropolitan Diary column to the New York Times in February 2015.

Over a half-century, he interviewed many of the leading performing arts practitioners in almost every medium, from Sir Derek Jacobi to Milton Berle. Most were published in newspapers, magazines and even his own three experiments with online blogging. His articles recounted interviews and roundtable discussions  taped with Tennessee Williams, Eugene Ionesco, David Mamet, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Estelle Parsons, Diana Rigg, Joan Plowright, Jonathan Pryce, Edward Asner, Alfred Drake and Rex Harrison. Some of the articles were couched as if the interviewee had written them, but in fact Ira was the author and credited “as told to.”

But he was deeply involved in the creation of theater as a playwright, director and producer for Off-Broadway productions, children’s theater and dance presentations – as well as general manager, production manager, stage manager and educator. He produced with Unicorn Productions his own musical adaptation of Of Mice and Men in 1958; wrote The Secret Concubine for Carnegie Hall Playhouse in 1960; and directed his own script, For Love of Candy, in 1971 at the Forestburgh Summer Theatre in Monticello.

Born in New York City, he attended City College of New York, 1947-1950, studying English and philology. He had written short stories, poetry and a novelette. But he had no deep interest in theater until a friend took him to a college rehearsal where he realized he might write plays. To do that, he had to volunteer to paint scenery, hang lights, do publicity and act, something he did not think he was cut out for.

 But that allowed him to produce and to write one-act plays, some of them experimental. The turning point occurred at a chance viewing of some random theater scenes based on the works of John Steinbeck.

He bought the rights for a six-month window to adapt and write lyrics for “Of Mice and Men,” along with a composer. With Steinbeck’s blessing, the show was mounted at the Provincetown Playhouse in November, 1958 with a cast including Jo Sullivan and Art Lund. It closed after six weeks because a newspaper strike delayed reviews. It was given a developmental reading in 2007 by the York Theatre Company.

Survivors include two sons, Michael and Bill, a Miami-based filmmaker, and his first wife, the acting teacher/coach Alice Spivak with whom he remained close. His second wife, Debbie Wasserman, who was a longtime ATCA member as well and worked for PBS’s Channel 13, preceded him in death.

To see a 2009 interview with him, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa9rAhmRp9c.

If ATCA members would like to share members, go to our forum inside our website at http://atca.memberlodge.org/page-1058365.

 

I REMEMBER IRA! OR, HOW IRA BILOWIT SAVED THE DRAMA-DESK FROM OBLIVION! 

Not only was Ira Bilowit a Tell-It-Like-It-Is Crusty-Critic, but he was also a Dedicated-Truth-Teller when it came to defending Causes & Groups that he believed in.

One of the most important of these was the Original Drama-Desk, almost destroyed by one of its most Arrogant & Self-Promoting Members, Leo Schull, Editor/Publisher of Show-Business, a Trade-Rag that listed Upcoming-Auditions, Performance-Possibilities, & Show-Biz-Gossip.Ira Bilowit

As Initially-Organized by Actual-Drama-Desk-Editors—way back when there were still a number of Daily & Weekly Newspapers in & around Manhattan—the Drama-Desk was conceived & created as a Weekly-Wednesday-Noon-Luncheon at Sardi’s, complete with a Sardi’s-Buffet at $2.50 a Plate!

But this Drama-Desk was not just a “Chowder & Marching Society.” Nor was it composed Only of Drama-News-&-Reviews-Editors: Publishers, PR- Reps, Producers, Theatre-News-Reporters, Theatre-Interviewers, & Drama-Critics were all warmly welcomed to join Our-Weekly-Gab-Fests.

In addition to Getting-Together to “Meet & Greet,” as well as to discuss what was currently happening on the Great-White-Way, Panels were presented, usually Moderated by Henry Hewes—Drama-Critic for The Saturday Review—featuring Leading-Playwrights, Outstanding-Directors, Actors-Equity-Spokesmen, Broadway-Stars, & even Peter Brook with his Marat/Sade Cast!

Unlike the Current Drama-Desk, there were No-Major-Awards given. Only the Vernon-Rice-Award, honoring a Long-Forgotten-Critic, brother of Sports-Writer Grantland Rice.

On occasion, Ira or I would relieve Henry Hewes, presenting Panels of Our-Own- Devising. My Most-Memorable-Moment was my Mary, Queen-of-Scots vs. Queen Elizabeth Panel-Discussion, featuring among others Beverly Sills, Nancy Marchand, Salome Jens, Claire Bloom, & Eileen Atkins.

Unfortuately, Leo Schull always had to “Have-His-Say” at every Drama-Desk-Wednesday. These were always Self-Promotional-Moments, embarrassing to All save Leo Schull. At one Awkward-Session, Leo sat our new X-Rated-Movie-Porn-Queen, Georgina Spelvin, next to a completely-unaware Julie Andrews, who chatted amiably with what she believed was a Fellow-Artist.

This Unsettling-Event precipitated a Mass-Resignation from The Drama-Desk, with Ira & I among the Prime-Movers. We abandoned Sardi’s for a Less-Good-Location & Not-So-Hot-Buffet, but Henry Hewes was now in the Drama-Desk-Doghouse, so a New-DD-Coalition renamed Our-Group as The-New-Drama-Forum.

Instead of Challenging-Panels organized by Henry, Ira, & Yours-Truly, we now had Often-Tedious-Sessions, designed by our New-Drama-Moral-Police: John Beaufort [The Christian-Science-Monitor], Edith Oliver [The New Yorker], & Marilyn Stasio [Variety].

Boring! Boring! Boring!

Ira soon “Jumped-Ship,” leaving Henry Hewes & me to “Keep-the-Faith” with what used to be…

But one day, Henry called me: “Did you know that Ira & Debbie Wasserstein have revived our Old Drama-Desk, but now over at Rossoff’s?” Together with his Feisty-Partner, Debbie, Ira had indeed brought back the Drama-Desk we had known & loved.

In the Mid-West-Forties, Rossoff’s-Upstairs was No-Sardi’s. Nor was the Buffet, but the Management was very glad to Host-Us!

Bless You Both, Ira & Debbie! You would not recognize what The Drama-Desk has now become: Awards-Galore!

                  —Glenn Loney, Remembering Ira Bilowit, my Longtime-Colleague & Friend!