Reviewing the Performing Arts--An Introduction to Critical Writing Winter 2022

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Class Details

This course will begin with a week of readings in the critical literature of the past, concerning especially theatre and opera. Then students will write reviews of videos of excerpted and full performances (as well as a live performance, if accessible), both as homework and in class, and discuss them as a group. We will discuss ethical issues, in both journalistic contexts and those pertaining to a members of the arts community, as well as the history of critical writing inasmuch as it created a tradition that still informs what we write and what audiences read. Evaluation will be based on class participation and two or three reviews, amounting to ten pages, which they will have written over the course. The course will be valuable for students who think they might be interested in a career in arts journalism, as well as for prospective theatre-makers who want to acquire a self-critical tool which will prove valuable in their work as performing artists and defuse the fear many of them may suffer from in the face of reviews. My contribution to the class is founded on my experience of over fourteen years as critic of theatre, opera, classical music, and art, editor/publisher of The Berkshire Review for the Arts (now Hudson-Housatonic Arts) and New York Arts, as well as a playwright-librettist, director, and actor. I have been an enthusiastic theatre-goer since childhood and studied ancient Greek tragedy and comedy in depth during my undergraduate and doctoral studies in the Classics at Harvard University and the University of Oxford.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: two or three reviews amounting to 10 pages
Prerequisites: Interest and possibly experience in the performing arts
Enrollment Preferences: interview
Unit Notes: Michael Miller is a critic who writes about drama, opera, classical music, and the visual arts. He is an active theatre-maker as a playwright, director and actor. His solo play, "Transfiguration," received the Best One-Man Drama Award at the United Solo Theatre Festival 2018. This comes after a post-graduate degree from the University of Oxford, a Ph.D. in Classics and MA in Fine Arts at Harvard University and a career as a curator specializing in the Italian Renaissance and drawings.
Materials/Lab Fee: none

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