Last week I was invited to participate in a forum for a graduate seminar at Columbia College. The class was for Master's students in the arts and media management program, and they wanted me to represent the "working critic." I naturally brought a copy of the cover story we did last month on the Internet's effect on criticism, for which I led a critics' roundtable discussion, to reference in my part of the talk. I was pleased and a little more than astounded to find that not only had another of the panel speakers brought the same issue of TOC, without knowing that I would be there with him, but that the class's instructors had put up part of the cover package on the class website as assigned reading. I also found out that most of the students follow the magazine pretty closely. Most remarkably, one of the students in the section I was participating in was doing a project comparing the criticism of the Tribune's Chris Jones with, um, me. Wow.
I know that pointing you to Time Out content is not the most scintillating of blog content, but I'm on my way to Arkansas for the weekend to celebrate my beautiful sister's wedding, and I want to leave you with something to read. And there's plenty of new material at TOC this week.
I wrote my first long-form review in this week's issue, of Next's American Dream Songbook. It's a really interesting project, and worth seeing just for the first half, Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, which is beautifully rendered. The five new songs by modern composers each have their merits and their drawbacks, and as a compilation they're very interesting. But I was particularly bothered by the race and gender imbalance, as referenced in the last paragraph of my review. It's possible that Next tried to find female and/or non-white composers to participate and couldn't, but I'm really bugged by the fact that Suzan-Lori Parks is the only woman invoked in the dozen or so playwrights pictured on the theater's walls as authors of the American Dream. Where's Lorraine Hansberry? Lillian Hellman? Heck, where's Wendy Wasserstein? Sure, it might be easy for some to write off Wasserstein as a commercial playwright, but if her portraits of the "New Woman" trying to negotiate a balance among career, romance and family in the 1970s and ‘80s aren't those decades' version of the American Dream, I don't know what is.
We've had plenty of content on the TOC Blog this week as well, including my less-than-pleased reaction to Broadway in Chicago's announcement that Jersey Boys is becoming a sit-down production, and Christopher Piatt's rundown of the secretive Orgie Awards Thursday morning (read it, you might have gotten an award without even knowing it). Meanwhile, our Out There reporter Jake Malooley filed a balanced report on blog complaints from numerous sources about financial malfeasance at the Bailiwick.
All of that, along with the compelling content from other theater bloggers (I know I'll be checking in Saturday to see if I'm named in Tony's "Critiquing the Critics" series) ought to keep you occupied. I'll be back next week.