It’s Old Home Week in the comments section of my post “Theatre blogosphere dead; no services planned” from Tuesday (which, curiously, garnered even more page views than Monday’s post, the previous champion). A few others have appropriately longer-form responses, the most thoughtful of these being Jana Perkovic’s essay at her blog Guerrilla Semiotics. She takes a long view of the ways that the critical blogosphere affected theatre in Melbourne; she writes:
As long as criticism is understood as a practice external to the the arts, critics will be subjected to the same precarious work conditions, same reliance (for both income and professional standards) on a completely extraneous industry, and the critical output of the country will remain of low volume, and abysmal quality. And, as long as writing criticism is seen as hurting one’s standing within the arts industry, the ability of criticism to attract the most educated, insightful, and articulate voices will be further compromised. Theatre criticism in a country cannot function entirely as a kamikaze operation.
The future of criticism is almost certainly not in full-time employment, and very definitely not in writing for newspapers and magazines. It is also not in microblogging, not on Twitter, not in “vox populi”-style surveys, and definitely not in different aggregators and miscellaneous arts portals that have sprung up in recent years, combining advertising revenue with no writers’ fees, and producing criticism no longer or better than the average newspaper. Criticism requires long form, a critical culture requires dialogue. …
The only credible future vision we have right now is of quality criticism as a sometimes-job or part-time job, done by people who receive the majority of their income somewhere else, people not writing criticism for the glory and influence (a la Kenneth Tynan), but out of a sense of responsibility towards the theatre sector, and out of writerly joy. If it exists, it will be funded by a patchwork of different sources, public and private — or it will continue to be funded by self-exploitation.
That’s from the conclusion of the essay, and it’s important to see how Ms. Perkovic gets there from its beginning. You can read the whole post here.
In the meantime, Aleks Sierz (The Theatre of Martin Crimp) recently interviewed the author of In the Republic of Happiness, Crimp’s new play at the Royal Court, in “Martin Crimp in the Republic of Satire” for the Arts Desk. Sierz’s review of the show, published just this morning, is here.