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A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer

Refereeing the Muses

Bob Abelman and Cheryl Kushner

A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer: Refereeing the Muses examines the skill set associated with being a critic and arts journalist. It explores the history, evolution, and future of the profession in the United States, and carefully and purposefully dissects the preparation, observation, and writing process associated with generating thoughtful and interesting arts criticism.
Using theatrical productions as the best and most vivid example of a storytelling enterprise that employs creativity, imagination, collaboration, aesthetics, and artisanship to effectively engage an audience, this book is intended to generate the critical thinking and critical writing skills necessary to effectively engage in all forms of arts journalism.
It is designed to be used as a college-level textbook on theater criticism and arts journalism courses, for those looking to become more thoughtful, critical consumers, for casual critics thinking about starting a blog or working for their university newspaper, and for working critics hoping to improve their craft.
The text is written in an accessible style and includes quotes from renowned critics and arts practitioners throughout as well as frequent sidebars that offer timely, insightful, and entertaining examples of the points being made in the text.


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Table of Contents


List of “in ProfiLes” vii Preface ix acknowLedgments xv 1 the arts at arm’s Length 1 Keeping the Arts at Arm’s Length 2 Summary 11 2 criticizing the arts, or not 15 The Obstacles of Critical Thinking About the Arts 15 Summary 24 3 the critic 29 The Arts Writer/Entertainment Reporter 30 The Critic 32 Critics in Conflict 36 Critics as Privileged Communicators 41 Critics as Creative Communicators 44 Critics as New-Wave Communicators 46 Summary 46 4 criticaL thinking 53 The Stages of Critical Thinking 55 The Evolution of Critical Thinking 58 Critical Approaches: Placing Art in Context 62 Summary 69 5 the evoLution of criticism: from dramatic to theater criticism 73 The Birth of Dramatic Criticism 74 The Birth of Theater Criticism 77 Summary 86 interior_abelman.ind 5 6/13/13 11:41 AM vi | A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer: Refereeing the Muses 6 the evoLution of theater criticism: the modern era 91 A More Learned Press Corp 91 The Birth of Modern Criticism 93 Summary 113 7 storyteLLing conventions 121 Theater’s Core Conventions 123 Becoming Theater Literate 145 Summary 147 8 the storyteLLers 153 The Playwright 154 The Artistic Director 158 Director and Designers 165 Actors 170 Summary 175 9 PreLude to a critique 179 A Critic’s Characteristics 179 Summary 200 10 writing a critique 207 What Do You See 207 What Do You Write 211 Characteristics of a Good Read 221 Summary 223 11 deconstruction of a critique 229 A Case Study in Criticism 229 The Deconstruction 236 A...

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