Not actually position papers in the intended meaning of this corner of our site, these snippets do, however, at least suggest positions. They are gathered here after having had their week or two in the home page sun; the initial dates are when they were posted.
(4/2/13) “Jobbing in artists, short rehearsals, top-down administration, black history month diversity, chatting with a guest artist on the first day of rehearsal and again at the cast party, choosing the project or playwright the Times singled out last season—these are not the same as putting our methodology where our mouth is, believing that the way we work, the structures we create, the means to fulfilling our missions are as value laden, as important, as artistic, as what lands on our stages.” — Todd London, “One for all and all for one and every man for himself,” HowlRound, 3/27/13
(3/20/13) “The reviewer proclaims his ignorance, then blithely practices it. His chirpy tone is the voice not of a critic but of a ‘cricket’ … . The writer makes noise but not meaning. He’s full of energy but not information… . His article is not criticism; it’s bluffing,” says John Lahr (New Yorker), distinguishing a reviewer from a critic.
One terse response came from Charles McNulty (LA Times): “I always thought [Lahr] was part of the problem. His reviews rarely provided in-depth analysis of a production… . I lost all confidence in Lahr’s critical integrity. I would read his reviews and see his dinner parties.”
Read more about it here, with relevant links.
(1/26/13) “Although artists and critics are hardly natural allies, a vigorous public discourse about theater — and that necessarily means an assessment of its quality — is vital to the health of the art form that supports them both.” — Charles Isherwood on the delay of officlal opening of the Pacino “Glengarry,” NYT, 12/3/12. (Full column here.)
“This article tries to say that the world is suffering because sometimes critics with their expert opinions are less important than star power, but it feels like more of a whiny lament for lost power due to the personal insult of not being invited to give an opinion soon enough to matter.” — reader response to same, 12/20.
(12/6) If criticism is the turning of the secondary (the critic’s judgment) into the primary, then the judgment should, in turn, be judged. Criticism, if it’s worth anything at all, is, first of all, self-criticism. – Richard Brody, “How to Be a Critic”
(11/27) To speak of impersonal criticism is as ridiculous as to speak of impersonal drama, music, painting, or reaction to alcoholic liquor. There is no such thing. There is only live criticism and dead criticism. – George Jean Nathan, The Theatre Book of the Year, 1946-47
(11/8) Marx understood that criticism doesn’t mean delivering petty, ill-tempered Simon Cowell-like put-downs. It doesn’t necessarily mean heaping scorn. It means making fine distinctions. It means talking about ideas, aesthetics and morality as if these things matter (and they do). It’s at base an act of love. Our critical faculties are what make us human. – Dwight Garner, NYT Magazine, Aug. 15, 2012
(11/1) The chief fault with many critics is that they strive to divert to themselves the attention, if any, that their criticism should attract to itself. – George Jean Nathan, Art of the Night, 1928
(10/?) “The best advice I ever got, right before the publication of my first book, was from a publishing mentor who told me, ‘The only thing worse than a stupid bad review is a stupid good review.’ And he was right.” From Daniel Mendelsohn’s fine “A Critic’s Manifesto,” a lengthy consideration of criticism on the New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog, Aug. 28, 2012.
(9/??): Mark Twain (reported): “It is the will of God that we must have critics and missionaries and Congressmen and humorists. We must bear the burden.”
9/11: Control your emotions. Want the writer to be good. Want all writing to be good. If this writing is not good, regard the situation as regrettable, rather than cause for an end zone dance. – J. Robert Lennon, Salon, Aug. 18, 2012, “How to Write a Bad Review”
8/27: Since childhood I’ve been a loather of America’s feel-good, everyone-on-tiptoes culture. Give me some straight talk. Give me a little humor. Give me something real. Above all, give me an argument. – Dwight Garner, NYT Magazine, Aug. 15, 2012
8/20: You want to put on a show? Nothing wrong with that — everybody loves a review with personality. Everybody enjoys a clever turn of phrase or an apt put-down. But have some perspective. Again, it’s not about you, for crap’s sake. – J. Robert Lennon, Salon, Aug. 18, 2012, “How to Write a Bad Review”
8/14: “With critics you sometimes get more than you deserve, you sometimes get less than you deserve. You never ever get what you deserve.” —Alan Ayckbourn, The Crafty Art of Playmaking
7/30: A more satisfying end is a line from David Hirson’s “La Bete,” coming to Broadway next season, by a character who is an actor: “I much prefer to any drooling fan/ A critic who will SLICE me into parts!/ God love the critics! Bless their picky hearts!”
7/17: “NY is not the ctr of American theater; American theater is everywhere.” -@TerryTeachout
7/?: “the kind of work that theater critics once compared to TV, back when we could afford to be smug about our cultural position” – Jason Zinoman, NYT