There’s something really interesting about how closely theatre criticism seems to reflect theatre-making. There are indie reviewers who some people think are useful and others are totally frustrated by. Critics can barely make a living doing what they do. There’s a diversity problem in the field. There’s a real question about what criticism is worth to the city of Toronto.
We brought together three Toronto theatre critics to dive into these issues.
Carly Maga studied journalism at Ryerson, and theatre and performance at York. She has been covering Toronto theatre since 2010, and previously wrote theatre criticism for Torontoist. She’s currently a critic for the Toronto Star.
Steve Fisher is an arts and entertainment critic who writes about theatre for Torontoist. His writing has also appeared in Post City, NOW Magazine, The A.V. Club, and CBC Music, among others. In 2016, he won a Nathan Cohen Award for Excellence in Critical Writing.
Lynn Slotkin is a theatre critic who runs her own website and newsletter, The Slotkin Letter. She’s also the theatre correspondent for CIUT’s Friday morning arts and politics show. Her work has previously appeared in The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Performance Magazine, How Theatre Educations, and the Hollywood Reporter, as well as on CBC and TV Ontario.
On Independent Reviewers
Steve and Carly think people who review theatre on their own blogs generally help the city’s arts ecology. Lynn disagrees completely: “There’s no place for mediocrity.”
On Working for Free
Toronto only has one full-time salaried theatre critic. How much are we willing to pay for theatre criticism, and what will that do to the community?
There is unanimous agreement that more needs to be done about diversity in theatre criticism in Toronto. Do they feel they have the responsibility to help change that, and what can be done?
On the Toronto Theatre Scene
What does theatre have going for it, and how it can be better? Steve, Carly, and Lynn challenge each other with thoughts on whether or not theatre should be more event-like.
Interested in more from theatre critics? Carly Maga penned this piece on why she chose to be a theatre reviewer.