Isherwood leaves NY Times; paper affirms ideals of theater criticism
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 9:35PM
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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.

“The New York Times is seeking a critic to review and write about the vitally important world of theater. From Broadway to Off Off Broadway, Steppenwolf to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the West End, theater has never been so creative, so wide-reaching and so necessary.

“We are seeking a critic with a deep appreciation for plays, musicals and theater history, but it is equally important that this person is able to connect the themes and issues on stage to those of the wider world. The writer must be gifted at assessing performances and stagecraft, but also eager to help readers understand the ideas that drive the work. While a background writing about theater is a plus, it is not a prerequisite.

“Discovery, too, will be a crucial part of the job. The New York Times has a rich tradition of identifying, spotlighting, and championing young actors, writers, directors, and other theater artists. We are committed to that mission now more than ever and are looking for someone who will be curious, discerning, open-minded and energetic about seeking out the emerging voices and talents who are narrating and challenging life as we know it.

“As The Times expands its audience around the globe, the critic must be open to experimenting with new story forms, be willing to collaborate with a large staff of editors, reporters and fellow critics, and be open to engaging with readers when appropriate. Most important, this critic must be able to convey with wit and emotion what makes plays and musicals important, irreplaceable and often unmissable.

“This is a Guild position open to internal and external candidates. To apply, please send a one-page summary describing how you would approach the job, along with writing samples of published work to culturejobs@nytimes.com.” (quoted from the American Theatre website)

NOTE: FOR A SEPARATE, LESS ENCOURAGING report on the state of arts criticism. click here.

Article originally appeared on American Theatre Critics Association (http://americantheatrecritics.org/).
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