Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let's talk criticism, gender and blogging at Princeton University

Theatre Criticism, Gender, and Blogging:
A Free-Wheeling Discussion
Moderated by The Feminist Spectator

Prospect House
Garden Room
Princeton University
Saturday, April 28, 2012
2 – 5 p.m.

With panelists Karen Fricker (The Guardian; Royal Holloway), Randy Gener (American Theatre, Critical Stages), Bonnie Marranca (Performing Arts Journal), and Alisa Solomon (Columbia), and moderator Jill Dolan (Princeton, The Feminist Spectator).

Join us for a panel discussion about gender and theatre criticism to mark the occasion of Prof. Jill Dolan receiving the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2010-2011 for her blog, The Feminist Spectator.  Panelists will address the gender (and race) imbalances and inequities in contemporary criticism, and discuss alternative venues for publishing in-depth writing on current performance and theatre.  The panel will also assess the continuing importance of arts criticism and commentary.

2:00 – 2:30           Welcome and Awards presentation 
2:30 – 3:45           Panel discussion
3:45 – 4:00           Conclusion and redesigned blog launch
4:00 – 5:00           Reception

The Feminist Spectator ruminates on theater, performance, film and television, focusing on gender, sexuality, race, other identities and overlaps, and our common humanity. It addresses how the arts shape and reflect our lives; how they participate in civic conversations; and how they serve as a vehicle for social change and a platform for pleasure. It's accessible to anyone committed to the arts' political meanings.

In her theatre blog at The Guardian, Karen Fricker discusses the significance of the Nathan Award going to Jill Dolan's The Feminist Spectator. Fricker notes that the Nathan Award's history of gender imbalance "might reflect the field's demographics [but] it does nonetheless prompt questioning about why criticism is still largely perceived and practiced as a man's game, when the accomplishments of Dolan and other leaders in the field...prove that turning out incisive, engaging critical prose about what happens on a stage does not require a Y chromosome."

The proceedings will begin at 2:00 p.m. in Prospect House on the Princeton campus. Prospect House can be located here: or

For those coming by train from NYC, take New Jersey Transit from Penn Station to Princeton Junction. Transfer across the platform for the train to Princeton ("the Dinky"),


Jill Dolan is the Annan Professor of English and Professor of Theatre at Princeton University, where she directs the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She is the author of The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1989, to be reissued in a 2012 anniversary edition), Utopia in Performance (2005), Theatre & Sexuality (2010), and many other books and essays.  She won the 2011 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.  Dolan writes The Feminist Spectator blog at, soon to migrate to, for which she won the 2010-2011 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism.

Karen Fricker is a lecturer in contemporary theatre at Royal Holloway University of London.  She is also a professional theatre critic with a two-decade long career in the US, Ireland, and the UK.  She currently reviews for Variety and Irish Theatre Magazine, which she co-founded in 2008, and has written for, among other venues, The Guardian, The Irish Times, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times.  Her scholarship addresses the effects of globalization on contemporary theatre and performance.  She is currently writing a book called Making Theatre Global:  The Creation, Circulation, and Reception of Robert Lepage’s Original Stage Works for Manchester University Press.

Randy Gener is a New York City-based editor, writer, critic and conceptual artist, and a winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for his editorial work and critical essays as contributing writer and senior editor of American Theatre magazine. A 2003 New York Times critic fellow, Gener serves on the editorial board and is the US section editor of Critical Stages (, the web-journal of International Association of Theater Critics. He is the Broadway editor of New York Theatre Wire (, a site he co-founded in 1996. He has also received the Deadline Club Award for Best Arts Reporting from the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and NLGJA Journalist of the Year, among other honors. Gener writes in the theater of One World (, an online media project devoted to cultural diplomacy and international understanding. Gener served for four years as co-creator and curatorial adviser of From the Edge, USITT's USA National Exposition at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. This exposition on the sociopolitical issues consuming American performance makers today returned from Prague and debuted in Long Beach, California, in March 2012; it will premiere in New York at LaMaMa LaGalleria from Dec. 3 to 16, 2012. Gener served as a U.S. judge of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2011 International Festival MESS Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Gener contributes critical essays and scholarly articles to books and anthologies, most recently in Cambridge Guide to the American Theater (Cambridge University Press), International Theatre Institute: The World of Theater (Peter Lang Editions in Paris; ITI Center in Bangladesh), About the Phenomenon of Theater (Namayesh, Iran); and Out of Silence: Censorship in Theatre and Performance (Eyecorner Press, Denmark). He is finishing editing and writing the introduction to The Female Heart and Other Plays by Linda Faigao-Hall, a collection of plays, for publisher NoPassport Press.

Bonnie Marranca is publisher and editor of the Obie Award-winning PAJ Publications and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (originally called Performing Arts Journal), which she co-founded in 1976.  She has written three collections of criticism: Performance Histories, Ecologies of Theatre, and Theatrewritings, which received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Among the many anthologies she has edited include New Europe: Plays from the Continent; Plays for the End of the Century; American Dreams: The Imagination of Sam Shepard; and The Theatre of Images.  Her writings have been translated into fifteen languages.  Marranca is Professor of Theatre at The New School/Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts.  She received the 2011 ATHE Excellence in Editing Award for her work with PAJ Publications.

Alisa Solomon directs the Arts & Culture concentration in the MA program at the Journalism School at Columbia University. In addition to contributing occasionally to The Nation, The Forward, The New York Times, and other publications, she was on staff at The Village Voice for 21 years, where she was a regular theater critic and cultural and political reporter, winning awards for stories on reproductive rights, electoral politics, women's sports, and immigration policy.  Solomon’s book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender, won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.  She is the editor of three anthologies: Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (with Tony Kushner); Theater and Social Change (Theater, 31:3); and The Queerest Art: Essays on Lesbian and Gay Theater (with Framji Minwalla). Most recently, she edited and wrote the Introduction to The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping, by Bill Talen and Savitri D.  She is finishing a book-length project on the musical Fiddler on the Roof for publisher Henry Holt.

Images in this photo are courtesy of the George Jean Nathan Literary Estate

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