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

Monday
Apr182016

The final word from Philly

For more substantive stuff, ATCA members should watch their email. Here, we hope to post some links. But in the meantime, below are Alan Smason (chair of last year’s conference in N’Orleans), Bill Hirschman (just reelected excom chair) and Howie Shapiro, sporting the peripatetic Conference Hat, which he has to store until he passes it on next year in San Francisco.

Sunday
Apr102016

Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2016 

Additional $7,500 citations go to Steven Dietz and Jen Silverman

ATCA has selected Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” as the winner of the 2015 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2014. Qui Nguyen

This “sexy comedy about culture-shocked, grieving Vietnamese refugees who fled to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon” features “a vivid, specific voice, a wonderful sense of humor and compelling stakes,” said the judges. “Vietgone” premiered at South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California.

Two citations that carry $7,500 awards were presented to Steven Dietz’ “Bloomsday,” which premiered at ACT Theatre in Seattle, and Jen Silverman’s “The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane,” which premiered at Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program recognizing regional theaters as the crucible for new plays in the United States.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr092016

In Philadelphia Congress assembled, Day 4

It was a two-play day (The Octoroon at the Wilma and Sex with Strangers at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, for most), following a busy membership meeting in the morning. There, the following new excom members were elected: to regular three-year terms, Bill Hirschman, Plantation, FL; Susan Cohn, San Mateo, CA; and Kerry  Reid, Chicago, IL; and to a one-year term, Charles Giuliano, Adams, MA.

Then in the evening, we turned our attention to the wording of a motion to ally ourselves with other groups protesting recent laws discriminating against LGBT and other minorities. As you can see, it was just like the collaborative writing of another group in this same city, 240 years ago.

Saturday
Apr092016

More day three . . . 

Three conference chairs: Robert Sokol (next year, San Francisco), Alan Smason (last year, New Orleans) and Howie Shapiro (this year, right now, Philadelphia).

And most of this year’s conference, on Friday at the (well, just where were we Friday? … it’s a bit of a buzz). And where’s a lighting designer when you need one? 

Photo credit Alan Smason/Crescent City Jewish News

Saturday
Apr092016

Day three in Philadelphia

The day began with a productive membership meeting in which, among much else, we broadened the criteria for memberhip to admit those writing about theater without necessarily doing traditional reviews. Barbara Bannon presented the 2015 Primus Prize (check, plaque, letter from Barry Primus) to Sharyn Rothstein, who made a gracious speech in return. We raised about $1,000 for our Robert Sokol (S.F.), Jessica Goldman (Houston), Kerry Reid (Chicago), Howie Shapiro (Philly, conference chair), Wendy Rosenfield (Philly) and John Angell Grant (Palo Alto).Foundation. And we chose San Francisco as the site for the 2017 conference, to be chaired by Robert Sokol of the S.F. Examiner.

In the afternoon there were three illuminating panels: (1) “Digital Theater and New Opportunities,” (2) the archives of the theater division at the N.Y. Public Library, and (3) “Trans Onstage: Critical Awareness.” More on these (probably) to come.

In the evening, most saw The Nether, by our 2014 Primus winner, Jennifer Haley, at InterAct, while some went hither and yon. But many regrouped later at the bar at our hotel for food, drink and debate (as you see, above). Onward!

Friday
Apr082016

ATCA/Philly, day two

Membership meeting in the morning, then on to the KimmelCharles McMahon, Lantern Theater Center and artistic director Jay Wahl (curator, Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts).

In the afternoon, at the Lantern Theater, where we were welcomed by artistic director Charles McMahon on the set of As You Like It.

The main event was a lively talk about the ethnocentricism (conscious or not) of most theater critics, by Diep Tran, associate editor of American Theatre magazine and especially its website. It was billed as a Diep TranKeynote Address, but actually it was the latest in ATCA’s series, Perspectives in Criticism (click here for full text), and we hope to have the text on line soon.

In the evening, most saw Peter and the Starcatcher at the Walnut Street Theatre, followed by talk extending into the night.

Thursday
Apr072016

Up and running . . . .

ATCA/Philly got underway yesterday with dinner and a Howie Shapiro at the micshow at the Arden Theatre — August Wilson’s Two Trains Running — followed by a quick talk about Wilson’s Pittsburgh connections by Chris Rawson of that city, and then by drinks and a first-ever ATCA “review slam,” at least for those with late-night stamina. Lou Harry was the joke-cracking host. Here’s Howie Shapiro, looking none the worse (yet) for the wear of being ATCA/Philly chair.

Saturday
Apr022016

ATCA-Philadelphia almost here

Our Daumier critic is so jazzed (about the Philadelphia conference opening in a few days) that he brings new meaning to the word clapper.

Sunday
Mar272016

Norton wins 2016 Osborn Award

Jonathan Norton has won the 2016 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award willJonathan Norton be presented at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville on April 9. The Osborn Award recognizes Norton’s “Mississippi Goddamn,” which premiered in February, 2015 at the South Dallas Cultural Center, directed by Vickie Washington.

An inaugural member of the Dallas Playwrights Workshop, Norton has had plays developed or produced by PlayPenn, The Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, TeCo Theatrical Productions, African-American Repertory Theater and more.

In “Mississippi Goddamn,” Norton takes us to the house next door to that of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and offers a drama about a family making tough decisions in a tumultuous time.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar262016

Last chance to register for ATCA/Philly/16

 Jam-packed schedule;
lots of friends;
great city;
plays galore;
much to learn (deductible!).
Click here now.

Thursday
Mar242016

Better Living through Criticism

“Everyone in this world has someone else whom he can look down on,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “and I must say, from experience of both trades, that the book reviewer is better off than the film critic, who cannot even do his work at home.”

Now, of course, he can. So that must leave the theater critic (along with dance and restaurant — am I forgetting anyone?) at the bottom of the pile today. But as Nathan Heller asks in his New Yorker review of A.O. Scott’s new Better Living Through Criticism, “what’s the point of a reviewer in an age when everyone reviews?” A fair question. Scott has a few answers.

Friday
Mar112016

ATCA names six finalists for $40,000 Steinberg/ATCA Awards

ATCA has selected six finalists for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2015.

The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each, plus commemorative plaques, will be presented April 9 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program of its kind.

This year’s finalists are:
Steven Dietz, Bloomsday  
Samuel D. Hunter, Clarkston
Qui Nguyen, Vietgone  
Jonathan Norton, Mississippi Goddamn
Lynn Nottage, Sweat
Jen Silverman, The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb212016

Call for submissions for 2016 Francesca Primus Prize

Deadline April 30.

ATCA invites submissions for the 2016 Francesca Primus Prize, an annual $10,000 award honoring outstanding contributions to the American theater by an emerging female playwright (one who has not achieved national prominence). The prize is made possible through the generosity of the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation and honors the writer, critic, performer, dramaturg, and cherished ATCA member who died at 42 of lung cancer in 1992. 2015 Primus winner, Sharyn Rothstein

The Primus Prize operates on an open submission basis—an applicant may submit herself or be nominated by another individual or organization. Members of ATCA are also eligible to nominate or provide letters of recommendation. To qualify for consideration in 2016, a playwright must have had a fully staged, professional production of her script within the calendar year 2015. It does not have to be the play’s world premiere. The committee also considers the applicant’s body of work going back several years. 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan312016

Criticism is free speech

“In reference to the recent Wooster Group/Harold Pinter situation in Los Angeles and scattered reports of troubling Harold Pinter (1930-2008): What would he say?analogs around the country, the American Theatre Critics Association strongly reaffirms our bedrock tenet that arts criticism is journalism,” stated Wm. F. Hirschman, chair, ATCA executive committee.

“Therefore, the decision to review a production to which the public is invited with admission charged is at the discretion and judgment of journalists and their editors.

For the full statement … 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan282016

Registration now open for Philadelphia conference, April 6-10

(Note ATCA’s Daumier critic as the clapper of the Liberty Bell — painful, perhaps, but a pretty good metaphor for criticism!)It took a while to get the bells and whistles aligned (tuned?), but you can now get aboard the Philly express. Why wait? Click here! to see what’s on the agenda, and then sign up.

Friday
Jan152016

Playwright Sharyn Rothstein wins $10,000 Primus Prize

Sharyn Rothstein has won the 2015 Francesca Primus Prize for an emerging woman playwright for her By the Water, which premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage II in Nov., 2014. ATCA adjudicates the award. Primus committee chair Barbara Bannon of Salt Lake City explained that the 2015 announcement came late because of the larger than usual number of contenders.

The six finalists for the award announced earlier, in addition to Rothstein, were Liz Duffy Adams for “A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World,” Nambi Kelley for her adaptation of Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” Tira Palmquist for “Ten Mile Lake,” Yasmine Rana for “The War Zone Is My Bed” and Catherine Trieschmann for “Hot Georgia Sunday.” 

The full press release follows … .

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec302015

NYPL short-term research fellowships for scholar-critics

The New York Public Library offers 2016-17 short term research fellowships to those from outside the NY metropolitan area conducting on-site research in the Library’s special collections. Fellowship stipends are $1,000 per week for two to four weeks; apply by Jan. 31. More info here; also click here for info about NYPL research resources; click here for the Library for the Performing Arts.

Monday
Dec142015

Six finalists for 2015 Primus Prize

November 30 — The six finalists for the 2015 Francesca Primus Prize are Liz Duffy Adams for “A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World,” Nambi Kelley for her adaptation of Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” Tira Palmquist for “Ten Mile Lake,” Yasmine Rana for “The War Zone Is My Bed,” Sharyn Rothstein for “By the Water,” and Catherine Trieschmann for “Hot Georgia Sunday.”

The Primus Prize is an annual award of $10,000 to an emerging woman playwright, jointly sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation.
Click here for a full press release. [link temporarily broken — we’re working on it]
Click here for the history of the award and a list of winners going back to its founding in 1997. 

The winner will be announced Dec. 31.

Thursday
Nov192015

ATCA on the move: a comprehensive report

Coming out of productive meetings in New York and drawing on much work beforehand, excom chair Bill Hirschman has a lot to announce: proposals on ATCA’s membership and governance; sharing the NY conference via video; volunteers for international meetings; nominations  for the Steinberg/ATCA and Osborn Awards; Primus Prize finalists; “Philadelphia, here we come” (April 6-10); Elections supervisor?; membership directory; speaking out; Excom vacancies … . All this follows.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov182015

2015 Theater Hall of Fame induction

ATCA voted … and a few months later, a lovely time was had by all. Read an account of the Nov. 16 induction ceremony by clicking here.