Monday, January 4, 2010

Critics Speak

I have a special press release to share today--one that I plan to write about more in this space both before and after the event. The press release is from the indomitable Don Calamia of Encore Michigan and Between the Lines.


ANN ARBOR - They're loved and they're reviled - often by the same individuals who read them faithfully in many of Southeast and Mid Michigan's most important newspapers. They're theater critics, and readers, theatergoers and theater insiders alike will have a rare opportunity to talk shop with them on Monday, January 11, 2010 at 7 p.m. when the state's leading scribes come together at Ann Arbor's Performance Network Theatre for The Critics Speak.

The event will be moderated by Barton Bund (artistic director of the Blackbird Theatre) and Tony Caselli (artistic director of the Williamston Theatre) and recorded for a future episode of Encore LIVE!, a semi-monthly podcast series produced for

Series co-creators and hosts Bund and Caselli agree that such a discussion has been a long time coming.

"Theater critics have a very powerful voice in the community and often play an important role in the success - or demise - of a show, yet no one really knows what criteria they use, or what their backgrounds are," explained Bund. "So we thought it would be fun and informative to get several of the best-known critics together and talk about local theater criticism."

It's also a chance for the public to get to know the critics, Caselli said. "We read them all the time, but the average theatergoer probably doesn't know who they are or what they look like. So The Critics Speak will give us an opportunity to get to know them better, while they learn what our concerns and expectations are. It will make for an interesting conversation, I'm sure!"

Although hosts Bund and Caselli promise to come armed with a long list of questions - "It's OUR turn to roast THEM," Bund laughed - the two-hour event will also include plenty of time for questions and comments from the audience. "That's why we opened the recording session to the general public and not just to the industry," Caselli said. "There's a lot about the magic of live theater that the average person doesn't know or understand - and theater criticism is probably near the top of that list. I'm sure the critics would love to get their feedback, too."

Critics expected to participate include Robert Delaney (New Monitor, Detroit), Tom Helma (City Pulse, Lansing), Jenn McKee (, John Monaghan (Detroit Free Press), Bridgette Redman (Lansing State Journal), and from, former Detroit Free Press critic Martin F. Kohn, D. A. Blackburn and Donald V. Calamia.

"These are the big guns when it comes to local theater criticism, so anyone who has ever wondered about the art or science of the job is encouraged to attend," Bund said. "But please leave home the rotten tomatoes."

Admission to The Critics Speak is $5.

Performance Network Theatre is located at 120 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104. For more information, call Performance Network Theatre at 734-663-0681 or at 313-537-4860.

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