If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably seen the end of a performance dozens of times. The audience claps, the cast takes their bows, the curtain goes down and the lights come up. The audience shuffles out as the staff cleans up and prepares for the next night’s show.
At UTBA, we don’t believe that a performance ends when the audience leaves the venue. A vital part of any theatre performance is the conversations that take place in the wake of the production. That’s why we’re here: to provide a forum for discussion about Utah plays so that the performances can linger on and continue to engage their audience after the curtain falls. We do this through our reviews and other content.
John Osborne—a 20th century British playwright—supposedly said that if you want to know how he felt about critics, you should ask a lamppost how he feels about a dog. At UTBA, we’re a little less cynical and we think that the relationship between the Utah artistic community and critics can be mutually beneficial—and can also be a great benefit to the audience. Long gone are the days when the only critics worked for media outlets like newspapers, television channels, magazines, and radio. With the rise of social networking, blogging, and other internet tools, the stereotype of the critic as the impossible-to-please, sarcastic, bitter old fogie with a megaphone is completely obsolete. Today’s critics are the rank-and-file audience members who go home and write a Facebook status about the play they just saw, post a message on their blog about the shows they attended during their trip to New York, or just talk about the performance with their date in the car.
The internet has democratized the position of the critic, and UTBA has embraced this change and brought it to Utah. We hope that it results in two outcomes. First—just like traditional critics—we hope our reviews bring outstanding shows to the attention of the public, commend high achievement when we see it, and provide constructive criticism of a production’s shortcomings. I know firsthand that it’s not fun to get a negative review on a show that you’ve worked on for two months. But critics are a valuable part of the creative process. Knowing that the public can read someone’s response to your play gives you more motivation to make it as good as possible. Feedback provides insight into what can be changed in order to tweak and improve future performances. Good reviews bring in audience members who may otherwise be reluctant to attend an event. And even a bad review may tell the producers or the director what went wrong with a production. Without critics, the arts grow stagnant and there is little incentive to improve.
Second—and here is our innovation—we hope to be the starting point of a conversation among members of the audience and the Utah theatre community. We hope that as you read our reviews you comment about what you agree and don’t agree with. We also want you to help us discover what these plays mean and how they have (or should have) impacted your day, your week, or your life.
What about our other content? Although reviews will likely be the main staple of the site, we also want to showcase all levels and facets of the Utah theatrical community. We hope to provide interviews, behind the scenes news, and opinions about theatre in Utah. We hope to do this through contributions from our readers and through our seeking out interesting personalities in the Utah theatre community to spotlight.
We’re thrilled to have you along, whether you’re a reader, or a reviewer/contributor. Whether you’re a director, producer, choreographer, actor, stage manager, set designer, box office manager, dramaturg, music director, lighting designer, costumer, board member, lifelong patron or one time visitor, you have something interesting to say. We’re all critics and as long as we’re talking about a show here, then the performance continues.