Savas Patsalidis[1]


All three papers presented here are selected from the symposium organized by the Romanian Association of Theatre Critics in collaboration with the National Theatre Festival in Bucharest, November 1, 2013, with the telling title: Theatre Critics/Criticism: Disappearance or Transformation. Although the papers come from two culturally different continents (Europe and Asia), they all reflect the same worries about the future of the art of criticism (or the act of criticism, for some). In their own way they recognize that we are standing at the threshold of a new modernity, quite distinct from the nation-state modernity which gave birth to the dramas of Jarry, Toller or Wedekind and the critical theories o Marx, Arnold and Shaw, among others.

It is quite obvious to all that the nation, which pretty much determined the frames of theatre practice, theatre marketing and critical thinking, is no longer central to cultural and economic organization. A new, transnational Empire has invaded national space, relativising boundaries, national identities and national imaginaries. The critics in the New Age, whether they write on the web or in regular newspapers, have to figure out what to do or undo. For one thing, they have to find out who their new audience is. They have to decide whom to have in mind while reviewing, human beings or fellow citizens? Their survival will pretty much depend on their ability to transform, that is to renegotiate their role and status in the midst of cataclysmic rearrangements that directly affect the frames of inquiry and analysis that shaped their research and critical discourse over the years.

The new century seems to be in need of a critical discourse which would demonstrate the character of the multitude; a critical discourse which would plunge into a crowd of people who cannot be easily or distinctly categorized. This idea can be quite tempting, but also challenging and above all intimidating. It is not easy to represent the multiple, either on stage or in writing, for multiplicity defies representation, it is immeasurable. The issues are perplexed as much as they are and perplexing, so I anticipate more agonizing colloquia to come.

[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), was awarded first prize by the Hellenic Association of Theatre Critics for best theatre study of the year (2010).

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