Sunday, September 4, 2011
I’ve just been hired as SF Weekly’s theater critic, and I could hardly ask for a more ideal gig. The paper, a part of Village Voice Media, will be paying me to do what, for the past two years, I’ve been doing for free: writing theater reviews in an alternative weekly.
But it will also be giving me a chance to do much more: To write both longer print reviews (800 words) and shorter online ones; to be read by a larger audience; to have the cache of national media organization.
Of course, I couldn’t have got here without the Bay Times. I’m very grateful to everyone there, especially the three editors I’ve had, each of whom has taught me much: To respect my craft; to avoid gratuitous snarkiness; to comment on the worth of a show’s mission in addition to saying what that mission is and whether the show fulfills it.
My first thoughts upon getting the offer were fearful ones—and not just the usual new job jitters. For better or for worse, I have always defined my life by my next ambition. Constitutionally unable to celebrate an accomplishment, I instead look for the next one. But in terms of working as a theater critic in San Francisco, I’m not sure I can imagine something else I want to work toward. SF Weekly might just be it (for now, at least). I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining; I’m just wondering what it will be like to immerse myself in my existing position instead of keeping one eye on the prowl—and if I’ll even be able to do so.
I’m also wondering what form this blog will take. Lately, it’s been a criticism of my criticism, and I hope I can continue that in some form, though I do think that writing for SF Weekly will be more time-consuming.
In beginning to make this transition, I’ve been thinking about the different “voices” I use for my different publications: The Bay Times, SF Weekly, Bay Stages and this blog. I use scare quotes because what each paper requires feels bigger than a shift from one register to another. Each has its own areas of concern and audiences—even its own critical criteria.
One thing I have loved about this blog is that, aside from a few concessions I (attempt to) make to a modicum of professional decorum, its subject is no more than my own interest, its audience is myself and people I care about, and its “critical criteria” can be as nonsensical and whimsical as my caprices dictate. So however I choose to use this space (and I do look forward to an evolution!), I don’t think it’s going to go away.
In the meantime, my first review for the paper (actually, for its blog, The Exhibitionist) is available here. Enjoy!