The Role of the Critic in Theatre

Role of Theatre Reviewers and Theatre Critics

A theatre reviewer sees a play and then writes about it for a newspaper,  magazines, or posts online. A reviewer gives their subjective opinions about a production--whether or not they enjoyed it-- and writes for the audience or subscribers of whoever is paying them to review the play, and they usually have to meet a deadline for submission. There is seldom any dramatic theory included in the review, and typically reviewers don't have a lot of theatre education or dramatic theory background. A theatre critic on the other hand, is someone who is more objective and understands dramatic theory and history.  They often look at the theoretical underpinnings of a work, or perhaps how a particular play is situated in a larger body of work or time period. Critics have time to reflect and consider the intellectual aspects of a play, and their work is typically found in academic publications and university classrooms.

In Drama 108, you are being asked to be a bit of a hybrid--both a reviewer and critic--someone who can give an informed and balanced analysis of a theatrical production. Not only do we want you to be able to analyze theatre, but in order to do it, you have to read it, know about it, and see  lots of it. Because studying and evaluating other people's work will really help you when you are creating your own production, which is coming up next! So make sure to reserve your theatre ticket, get your pen and notepad ready (or just your iPad/Notebook), and prepare to write a review.

Here are a few words from critics about their roles within the world of theatre.