It is quite obvious that contemporary reviewers are losing part of their traditional role. People have other and easier sources for their information (internet, blog pages, Free Press, commercials, TV etc). So, it comes as no surprise to hear the aphorism, “who needs a critic, anyway?” Nor is it a surprise, on the other hand, to see that more and more national theatre associations organize conferences focusing on the state of current theatre criticism/reviewing.
The present Conference Section of Critical Stages concentrates on this thorny issue. Three of the selected papers come from the IATC’S symposium organized by the Swedish Performing Arts Biennial (May 2013), at Jönköping (Sweden), and moderated by Margareta Sörenson (Director of Symposia for IATC) with the general title Performing Arts: the Ideas, the Practice, the Critics. The fourth paper comes, for the first time (and that is good news), from the Caribbean islands (Barbados); it was presented at the conference organized by the Bolivian Association of Theatre Critics in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in April 22-25, 2013.
None of the writers of these contributions believes that theatre reviewing or theatre itself, for that matter, can change the world. They all see that the culture industry offers a plethora of new sites of information, entertainment and interaction to the point of drastically disempowering the impact of traditional reviewing and theatre viewing. Yet, battles may have been lost but not the war. Critics and theatre practitioners can still give back to the field at least part of its lost social signficance and status by helping raise people’s awareness about the role of theatre in a world which is in a constant state of uncertainty and apprehension.
1 Savas Patsalidis is Professor of theatre history and theory in the School of English and the Graduate Program of the Theatre Department of Aristotle University (Thessaloniki). He also teaches at the Drama School of the State Theatre of Northern Greece. He is the author of eleven books on drama criticism/theory and co-editor of another thirteen. He is the theatre reviewer of the daily newspaperAggelioforos and a regular theatre commentator for the newspaper Eleftherotypia. He is on the editorial board of Critical Stages and the Journal of Greek Media and Culture. He is also member of the City of Thessaloniki theatre council. His two-volume study Theatre, Society, Nation (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2010), was awarded first prize by the Hellenic Association of Theatre Critics for best theatre study of the year (2010).