100 years of criticism

This year sees the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Critics Circle. To celebrate that centenary, a conference was held last week at the Embassy Theatre (now incorporated in the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) to look at the key changes that have taken place and what the future is for theatre criticism.

It was an event open to everyone and attracted a packed house and a lively audience as well as some distinguished speakers.

This is a time of flux when many critics are wondering whether they will continue to be employed (two theatre critics on national papers, both present on Friday, have just lost their jobs) and others ask whether professional critics are really necessary. It is a very appropriate time to look at the changing pattern of communication, at what a critic’s role should be and whether they are needed—all issues to which this conference turned its attention.

After a welcome from the RCCSD Principal Professor Gavin Henderson and the Circle’s President Simon Tait, the opening session looked back to the creation of the Circle by J T Grein on 5 June 2013 with William Archer as its Chairman, and at the situation in the past.