JANE HOWARD & RICHARD WATTS / RESPONSIBILITY IN CRITICISM - AUDIO STAGE

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“I think being part of the community is key to being a good critic.”
– Jane Howard

“My rule of thumb is, if they’ve been to my house for dinner, or I’ve been to their house for dinner, I’m not going to review them.”
– Richard Watts

In the second episode of our season on responsibility and art, our guests are Jane Howard, SA-based theatre critic whose work appears in The Guardian, Kill Your Darlings and Meanjin, and Richard Watts, host of SmartArts for 3RRR, national reviews editor for ArtsHub and long-term champion of Melbourne arts.

We talk about responsibility in arts journalism and criticism: how much of it is advocacy and how much critical reflection, ignorance and how to avoid it, and how to avoid becoming friends with artists!

“One of the things that got me into reviewing in the first place was going to the theatre and hearing critics in the foyer afterwards loudly complaining about a show and then seeing a very lukewarm review, a blandly critical review published the next day. I thought “No, it’s important to actually be critical.” As much as I admired Margaret Pomeranz’ passion for Australian cinema, for example, I thought that by going soft on Australian film she did the industry and the audience a disservice.”
– Richard Watts


Discussed in this episode:
processing difficult art, writing about famous people whose work you have never seen before, conscious and unconscious bias, Cameron Woodhead, feminist comedy, how bad art can make for a very good review, seeing Atlanta Eke, Strictly Ballroom, drunk Saturday night crowds that laugh at anything, Margaret Pomeranz, Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical, whether being a feminist reviewer will harm your career, so many white voices!, issues of race and gender, and whether 200 words could ever be enough.

“One of the interesting things about theatre criticism… is the breadth of works that theatre critics are supposed to see…. A literature critic isn’t going to review 50 Shades of Grey unless it’s a joke. Most of them aren’t reviewing commercial fiction; they’re reviewing literature. But theatre critics must review both small, independent, artistically difficult work – and we review musicals.”
– Jane Howard

Stay tuned: we have more exciting and intellectually rigorous conversations to come.

Podcast bibliography:
Lyn Gardner: Theatre review: Menopause the Musical (The Guardian, 20 April 2007)

Fleur Kilpatrick in conversation: Cameron Woodhead on The City They Burned, hetero-normativity, the bible, how i got it wrong (School for Birds, 23 September 2014)

Fleur Kilpatrick in conversation: Gabriel Comerford on critical culture in Brisbane dance (12 September 2014)

22 episodes available. A new episode about every 51 days averaging 57 mins duration .