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Musical Theatre Critique & Arts Journalism

New course to find next generation of theatre journalists and critics

Theatre’s leading journalists and critics have joined the University of Chichester for a new course intending to find a new generation of writers and reviewers. Students of the Musical Theatre Critique and Arts Journalism module learn about the industry from the UK’s foremost reporters and longest-serving commentators on the arts.

The course will hear first-hand from chief journalists and critics from national newspapers and magazines as well as popular blogs and social media outlets. The idea is to prepare the students for a career in theatre journalism and prepare for specialist roles on-stage or behind-the-scenes of national productions.

Journalists and theatre critics collaborating at Chichester

Mark Shenton – The Stage
Lyn Gardner – The Guardian
Michael Billington – The Guardian
Mark Fisher – The Guardian
Jake Orr – A Younger Theatre
Tom Wicker –The Stage

What they say

The Stage’s Mark Shenton (left): "As the world of theatre criticism democratises across the internet, so that anyone who has an opinion has an opportunity to express it, the role of the professional arts journalist is changing. Critics retain an unmatched authority and can provide the theatre with both a champion cheerleader and also fearless watchdog. I will amplify these thoughts in my guest lectures and look forward to contributing to this pioneering course at University of Chichester."

Lyn Gardner

Lyn Gardner of The Guardian (right): “It is an incredibly exciting time for theatre criticism. The cultural shifts that have taken place on the internet have created a variety of options for new and established theatre critics. The usual models of journalism no longer suffice for the new generation. Writers now have access to many different platforms on which to publish their work and do not have to go through editors of newspapers and magazines to publicise their work. The conversation is now a bigger and much better one.”

UK’s longest-serving critic Michael Billington (below): “There is a big future for theatre journalism but it is taking new forms from its traditional print focus. There is now a call for online critiques that offer platformsto a new generation of writers and reviewers. But the traditional principles remain the same: anyone who does a job they love is the luckiest human alive and, for me, theatre journalism and critiquing is one of the world’s greatest and most enjoyable professions.”

Course leader Andrew Wright: “This is something of a nationally-unique module within university education in the UK. Through the lectures, which include input from some of the most prolific theatre critics in the country, our students will gain a significant foothold within the industry once they graduate. Ultimately we want to help them to prepare for their own career in musical theatre whether that is on stage or writing their own critiques and reviews in national publications.”

Lecturer Carl Woodward: “Our collaboration with guest lecturers ensures that our students have the opportunities to learn from the best in the business. The industry has changed beyond recognition in the last decade so it important that graduates have the transferable skills necessary to access the other areas of musical theatre. It is also essential that they understand how to articulate a response to their critics, particularly as many performers are faced with fresh reviews after each show.”

Mark FisherFreelance theatre critic Mark Fisher (right): "The most important advice I can give to young writers is to get their work seen and overheard. Newspapers are going through a transitional phase and we now have more online-based media which is creating many new opportunities. This is particularly relevant for freelance writers who can work across various media outlets and retain the flexibility to work wherever and whenever they want."

How it works

Students publish their own 500-word reviews of professional theatre productions – musical or play – recently performed on-stage at national houses across the UK. This precedes a 3,000-word portfolio about contemporary theatre journalism.

How to apply

Full details of the Musical Theatre Critique and Arts Journalism module are available by contacting course leader Andrew Wright at a.wright@chi.ac.uk or, alternatively, visit www.chi.ac.uk/music.