Plateauing Leader of Color
My time as a Rising Leader of Color has come to an end, or rather TCG has chosen another round of leaders (shout out to Rosalind, the new critic in the cohort!). I’ve been doing arts journalism professionally for about a year* now and here are some takeaways from my time:
- The time-frame from seeing a show to sending off a review to an editor is about 48 hours. I find this stressful. I’m always worried I’ll get something wrong because I didn’t have enough time to sit with the work or, worse, because I have a cultural blind spot.
- What I think about a show right after I see it versus 2 weeks after I’ve seen it are sometimes different things. I don’t look at my old reviews often. What’s done is done.
- I burnt out on theatre at the end of the season. I'm glad for a break this summer.
- When I started last fall I was doing 3-4 reviews a month and eventually realized that was too many. I don’t have the time to do a review or write up every week. I have a day job, an apartment to keep clean, relationships to maintain, a body to keep healthy, and my own writing practice to keep up.
- Reviewing is work. Yes I like writing, and it’s cool to get paid to write about art, but this is not the same as writing an essay or short story. Though I enjoy it to a degree it is not fun.
- I’ve realized that although there are professional benefits to being a reviewer I don’t want to do it at the expense of my own art. Unless I could get paid to do this full time and have benefits.
- Going to the Critics Institute made me a more thoughtful writer. Which is why I find writing so much harder now. The more seriously I take my work the harder it is.
- People often ask me if I ever pan shows. I tend not to. There are a few reasons for this:
- I try to understand the intent of shows and sometimes shows do what they’re trying to do well but I just don’t like it because of my aesthetic preferences.
- I tend to pick shows that I think I’m going to like so there’s a self-selection bias at play. I’m always hoping that I’m going to see something I can encourage people to go to. Also, there are plays that I know are bad/I won’t like as soon as I read the press release.
- I actually really like talking about arts journalism and criticism and given the opportunity I’ll discuss it for hours.
- Looking back there are some productions I’ve seen that I should have been harder on.
- I wish that there were more arts writers in Portland and more opportunities for them to get paid.
- My biggest take away from being a TCG grantee is that there are a so many people, especially people of color, who care so much about theatre and making it a more equitable place for everyone. Getting to meet all those people was incredible.
- I am way more confident in my abilities than I was just a year ago. I tended to qualify my own abilities all the time and I’ve stopped doing that as much. I feel more confident going into this next season.
- I'm interested in broadening the scope of what I write about beyond theatre.
- I'm proud of a lot of the work I've done. Especially for American Theatre Magazine.
- My three favorite shows I saw in Portland last season: Magallenica at Artists Rep, This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing at Coho, and The Thanksgiving Play at Artist Rep. Special shutout to Manahatta at OSF.
*Yes I know I was reviewing before but that was pretty much just me stumbling in the dark.