Brock community event looks at theatre criticism in the digital age

(Source: The Brock News, Monday, February 10, 2014)

An upcoming series of community discussions at Brock University later this month will debate the question: is everyone a critic?

Media professionals, theatre experts, scholars and students will assemble in Sankey Chamber at Brock Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 to take part in the colloquium, The Changing Face of Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age, hosted by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

“The rise of blogging and Twitter, combined with the decline of print journalism, is raising important questions about what counts as legitimate, professional criticism,” says Karen Fricker, event co-ordinator and a professor of dramatic arts. “Our discussions will focus on the current critical scene in Niagara, as well as imagining possible futures for the arts in our community.”

Panel members include two of Toronto’s most influential theatre critics: J. Kelly Nestruck of The Globe and Mail and Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star. Others include local figures like Jackie Maxwell, artistic director of the Shaw Festival, and Steve Solski, director of the St. Catharines Centre for the Performing Arts.

The colloquium will also feature international critics: Jill Dolan, Princeton University professor and noted theatre blogger (; Maddy Costa, a London, England blogger and journalist; and Andy Horwitz, founder of New York arts blog

Dolan is visiting Brock as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders series. While here, she will deliver a public lecture, “Moving the Body Politic: How Feminism and Theatre Inspire Social Re-imaginings.” Her lecture, co-sponsored by the Department of Dramatic Arts and Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock, takes place Friday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, also in Sankey Chamber.

All of these events are free and open to the public.

Funding for these events is provided by the Walker Cultural Leaders Series, the Brock Humanities Research Institute and the SSHRC Institutional Grant scheme, and the St. Catharines Performing Arts Centre.

All events will be live-streamed.  [Click on “live video”]

SCHEDULE: The Changing Face of Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age

All events take place in Sankey Chamber at Brock University


* 2 – 2:30 p.m.: Welcome
Presentation by Brock dramatic arts students from the third-year class, Studies in Praxis – Theatre Criticism

* 2:30 – 4 p.m.: Panel discussion “Critics and the arts in Niagara”

  • Jill Dolan (respondent)
  • Monica Dufault, artistic director, Essential Collective Theatre
  • David Fancy, associate professor of Dramatic Arts, Brock University, co-artistic director, neXt Company Theatre (chair)
  • John Law, arts and entertainment writer, Sun Media
  • Sara Palmieri, co-founder, In the Soil Festival
  • Stephen Remus, minister of energy, minds, and resources, Niagara Arts Centre
  • Steve Solski, director, St. Catharines Centre for the Performing Arts
  • Candice Turner-Smith, managing director, Niagara Symphony Orchestra

* 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.: Panel discussion “Embedded criticism: a new way forward, or criticism-as-PR?”

  • Maddy Costa, critic and blogger
  • Karen Fricker
  • Andy Horwitz, founder,
  • Jackie Maxwell, artistic director, Shaw Festival
  • Jacob Gallagher-Ross, assistant professor of theatre, University of Buffalo (respondent)
  • Lawrence Switzky, assistant professor of Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga (chair)


* 10 – 10:30 a.m.: Welcome
Presentation by Brock dramatic arts students from the third-year class, Studies in Praxis – Theatre Criticism

* 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon: Panel discussion “Bloggers, critics, and cultural legitimation”

  • Jill Dolan
  • Karen Fricker (chair)
  • Andy Horwitz (respondent)
  • J. Kelly Nestruck, lead theatre critic, The Globe and Mail
  • Richard Ouzounian, lead theatre critic, Toronto Star
  • Holger Syme, chair, Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga, and blogger (
  • Odette Yazbeck, director of public relations, Shaw Festival

* 12:15 – 1 p.m.: Colloquium wrap-up

  • Maddy Costa; Jill Dolan; Karen Fricker (chair); Rosemary Drage Hale, director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Brock University; and Andy Horwitz

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