To Those About to Act, I Salute You; A Letter to Those I’ll Review
My name is Nick Pearce, and I’m here to criticize you.
I am a student attending KCACTF 48 with the Institute of Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA). I’ve been assigned to criticize you. But I don’t think of the word ‘criticize’ as its first dictionary definition which is to “indicate the faults of someone or something in a disapproving way”. I don’t set out to be disapproving of any performance I go to, because I feel that would make me an asshole.
I defer to the second definition of the word, which is to “form and express a sophisticated judgment of a literary or artistic work”. Here, the challenge I face is not to sound like an asshole, but to be sophisticated (often a difficulty for someone who uses “Asshole” twice in one paragraph), as well as express my feelings in a way that is constructive rather than destructive.
I don’t believe in tearing a performance that has consumed months of a cast and crew’s effort apart for the simple pleasure of a well-placed phrase. I don’t think that every show should be held to a Broadway standard, and then reviewed as such. I am not the feared and reviled critic that some people can imagine when that position is brought up, some vaguely pretentious snob who delights in mocking people’s hard work and effort, such as food critic Anton Ego in the beloved film Ratatouille. That’s not what I want to do.
What I want to do is learn. Every show I can attend here holds innumerable pieces of wisdom that I haven’t yet grasped. I attend these as a student first, and critic second. I am here to learn about the conflicts of war as told by video games (Leveling Up), to revel in the rhythm and blues of yesteryear (Smokey Joe’s Café), and even to learn why neither farm animals nor humans make good communists (Animal Farm).
I am here for the same reason I’d imagine most of you are: I want to get better. I believe that studying others in a craft is an amazing learning opportunity, especially those talented enough to have a show invited to a festival such as this. I believe I can improve aspects of my theatrical skill set by seeing and giving my opinions of your show. A published critique on this blog is not my thinking that I am worthy to judge you. If anything, it is my narcissism that you care what my opinions are. If you disagree with me, I entirely understand. Every person on a stage and in the audience for a production sees the show differently. I might even be wrong (gasp); I wasn’t present for any rehearsals, production meetings, or original runs of these shows. I’m just a college kid with Wi-Fi and an opinion.
And in it’s in this intent that I’ll be at every performance I can. I’ll review every performance I can. I’ll discuss every performance I can. And I can’t wait.
Break a leg,