So, there’s this new research project that is analyzing “tone, temper, and trends in theatre reviews of new work from the field’s top cultural print outlet during one calendar year.”
It’s doing a really interesting thing, because as an avid theatre-goer, I think it’s common knowledge how heavily the reviews of a piece influence that show’s ability to gain clout and keep going.
What the New York Times Critic Watch does is have you, as a participant, anonymously read and respond to a review.
I’ll post an update in the following few days when I do one myself., but the reason I posted this was because the idea of reviews and perception of theatre – and art in general – is a topic that I’ve been coming across for the past several days.
It’s in Theresa Rebeck’s keynote speech, where she talks about how a bad review killed her ability to get produced for several years - and how it related to her being a female. (I’ll discuss this speech as its own post soon.)
It’s in this great article by HowlRound, mentioning the Critics Watch project, about reviewing.
It’s on my mind every time I read TimeOutNewYork, because I’ll often have an interest in a show until TONY gives it a poor review. However, I see lots of shows TONY never speaks of, and so I quarrel with how reliable TONY’s reviews are. At the end of the day, a really poor review (as HowlRound brings up) can often be based in something personal – even if it isn’t a personal agenda towards certain kinds of theatre, which each person naturally has, it can be a dislike towards a person in a show, and those biases are often hard to overcome.
I was once told a bad first impression takes twenty consecutive meetings that leave impressions to correct. I don’t know how statistically true or reinforced this is, but I find it to be fairly accurate from personal experience. I also don’t think it applies to only people-meeting-people kinds of impressions, but to art. . . and I think it may be even harder to correct in art, because people can self-select what they spend their free time (and extra money) seeing.
What do you think? Has criticism ever prevented, or encouraged, your opinion or interest in a show?