Reviews and Reviewers: a poll

UPDATE Nov 2011: Greenroom used to collect reviews into an index at the beginning of our time here i.e., when other groups and companies were not making it quite so easy for people. A couple of years on social media has really taken a grip and it’s not hard to access online versions of play reviews i.e., from those big media companies who bother to publish them on the web as well as from independent arts writers and bloggers. Indeed, there is far more writing about the arts in general now that we have so much free space in cyberspace. The issue of quality? Ah, well, another can of worms there.

Greenroom suggested last year – after the results of a poll on whether or not theatre workers read reviews – that another poll on the quality of theatre reviewing might be in order sometime.  Perhaps it’s always time to mull over such a thing – but that time is surely right now at the start of a new theatre season here.  Theatre reviewers around the traps have flexed their fingers over keyboards and let rip with their take on the new and older shows like Hamlet and The Little Dog Laughed which have opened this month in Brisbane at the city’s two full-time professional companies.  Play reviews posted to blogsites generally allow commentary, and readers – who may or may not have seen the plays being reviewed – are letting rip in return with their opinions on well … just about anything.

Michael Billington (Guardian) and Charles Isherwood (New York Times) – both distinguished reviewers – have also blogged on the business of being a play critic.  I particularly like Billington’s little piece from earlier this week on what you need to be a theatre critic.  There are four points that he makes, and they’re worth a look – I’ll let you click through and read for yourself.  Isherwood, in a Q&A post to his readers puts it this way

Maybe the best analogy is to consider us aesthetic referees – calling ‘em like we see ‘em. That is the ideal anyway. My responsibility is to write honestly, and (I hope) with eloquence and understanding and maybe even passion about what I see.

But, it’s time for that poll.  Here’s your chance to say what you think poll-style.  It’s open for two weeks, so have your say and share it round.  The results will be published here when the poll closes.

And, just in case you didn’t know, Greenroom does its best to gather all reviews into an index here on site.  You can find links to online published reviews and blog commentary by clicking our home page calendar during a play’s season; you’ll find links there to all shows entered in the calendar and the reviews we’ve ‘captured.’  Just follow the links to their originating sites.  To save you the trouble this time, here they are for La Boite’s Hamlet, and here for Queensland Theatre Company’s  The Little Dog Laughed.

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