Critical Failure: Theatre


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Is theatre criticism in Australia failing practitioners and audiences? In this energetic discussion, Alison Croggon, Julian Meyrick, Cameron Woodhead and Stephen Sewell assess the role of the critic in contemporary Australian theatre.

They ponder the longevity of a critic’s verdict, the role of opinion, emotion and tact, and the relevance of ‘objectivity’. As the conversation fires up, our panellists critique and question the methods of their fellow debaters. More than a discussion of reviewing for the stage, this debate looks at the necessity of critics in improving art.

Declaring that “the internet is full of trolls,” Woodhead raised questions about the value, rigour and veracity of criticism published on the web. Croggon’s response, The Return of the Amateur Critic, begged to differ – generating avid debate on the ABC’s The Drum Unleashed site, where it was published in full, as well as on The Guardian’s Noises off theatre blog.

Elsewhere, Crikey theatre blog Curtain Call described the panel as “almost like a well-made play”, citing “impassioned monologues, moments of general disorder, comedic repartee and plenty of merry-andrew buffoonery”.

Watch other Critical Failure events

Book Criticism
Visual Arts Criticism
Film Criticism



16 Sep 2010

Filmed on:

08 Sep 2010


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