NCI/O’Neill invites applications to 2013 ‘critic’s boot camp’

NCI/O’Neill invites applications to 2013 ‘critic’s boot camp’

The National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn-ecticut, seeks critic fellows for its 2013 program, June 29-July 15. (NOTE that critic fellows can be young or old, experienced or novice.) Director Dan Sullivan (long-time theater critic at L.A. Times and Minneapolis Tribune) and associate director Mark Charney invite applications. Read on. 

Dear ATCA Colleague:

Greetings from the O’Neill Theater Center. I’m Dan Sullivan, director of the O’Neill’s National Critics Institute (NCI), working with my Associate Director Mark Charney, who has been with the Institute since 2002 when he was a Critic Fellow.

I’ve been an arts journalist for forty years, half of them as theater critic for the Los Angeles Times, with previous stints at the New York Times and Minneapolis Tribune.  As a young writer, I used to fret about getting so little feedback from my editors. “If we don’t change your copy, assume it’s OK,” they told me. 

Nowadays young reviewers and reporters get even less mentoring from the boss (if they’re lucky enough to have one), and serious questions accrue. How good is my stuff? Can I make a living at this?  How much revising is necessary? Who represents my audience? How is technology impacting my profession?   

O’Neill family’s Monte Cristo Cottage

NCI can help you find the answers. Each July we offer a backstage “boot camp for critics” in conjunction with the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference.

Our faculty — A-List  critics like the Village Voice’sMichael Feingold and Newsday’sLinda Winer — run your copy through their shredder. Meanwhile,  you’re living the famed O’Neill process, observing new scripts transition to staged readings in four days, with some of the best actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs in the business.

Basically you’re working your tail off: writing, talking, writing, watching rehearsals, writing, heading off for a show at the Goodspeed Opera House, and, oh, yes, writing. You’ll be better at all of it when you leave.  

And now, from Mark:

Hey there! Mark Charney here, once a Critic Fellow and now an administrator in the NCI Boot Camp. What Dan writes is true. You come in a writer, and you leave not only a better writer, but a better thinker as well, attuned to criticism in the 21st century. You profit in many ways, not only in terms of your own process, but learning from other professionals who share theirs.

You study and write at the beautiful O’Neill Theatre Center with some of the best folks in the business, and I found that after my stint as a Critic Fellow, I was a better critic, a better professor, and a better theatre practitioner. My directorial and playwriting skills improved, and most importantly, I broadened my vocabulary through actual practice. The schedule is demanding, yes, but you have the time to observe the O’Neill process, a rare treat indeed.

No matter what stage you are in your career, NCI will sharpen your perspective and abilities, and you will join the elite number of critics who have graduated from the most comprehensive critic training ground in the country.

This year’s session runs from June 29 to July 15. Cost: $2,000, with some financial aid available. For more information, visit our website at or write us at [email protected].

Do not miss the opportunity to study with the best in the business.  We welcome your application for the summer of 2013.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Dan Sullivan and Mark Charney

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