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Theatre Needs Critics

Writing with pen

Yesterday, the L.A. Times "Culture Monster" argued in support of theatre critics and writers in Los Angeles. This is mostly in reaction to recent layoffs of L.A.-area theatre critics (including those trying to save their jobs at the L.A. Times, perhaps?), but the most surprising part of the story is that theatre leaders themselves are the ones asking for more criticism.

Theatres across the country are facing economic hardship, and many recognize the need for a continuous voice and conversation -- whether in praise or criticism -- to keep interest in the theatre alive. One suggestion, from Sheldon Epps of the Pasadena Playhouse, is to allow "a sort of peer-review system in which people who run theaters assess the work being done at other theaters. And the reviews, he said, could run alongside those of the newspaper critics."

Michael Ritchie, of Center Theatre Group, said, "We don't always agree with the critics -- even when the reviews are positive... Sometimes getting praise from a critic is like having a proctologist tell you you've got a nice ass -- sooner or later, there's still some pain to come."

We're not sure if that last quote actually speaks in favor of the need for theatre critics. But hey, it's funny.

-- Daniel Lehman

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