Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The role of the critic
One of the jobs that a newspaper has is to serve as the eyes and ears of people when it comes to things such as drama productions, musical performances, movies and eateries (restaurants). It is not uncommon for staffers of The South Texan to attend one of the university's drama productions and write a "review." Also, from time-to-time, the reporters will review a university concert or a new album a group has released. It is at this time that many ask, "What qualifies these students as experts?" Well, they are not "experts." They represent the common citizen or student who is being subjected to the performances and they often review the action from a layman's point of view. This is especially true at the collegiate level where student reviewers (critics) are just honing their skills. As they progress into the professional ranks, they become more familiar with what makes a good drama production, good music or even good custom-making and scenery. Reviewing drama or musical productions is just part of the work we do at The South Texan and our students regularly look forward to these assignments. Having said that, it is important to note that the students who are chosen usually have a background in the area they have been picked to review or have been doing this for some time. The Advanced Reporting class offers a section of "critical reviews" for students and prepares them for this chore. In addition, the Structure of the Arts class gives students a background in many areas. Once on staff, students are coached as to what to look for when assigned to do a review. The reviews, while critical, are not intended to be personal assaults on any one and never should reflect that character. From time-to-time student reviewers will assert things such as a certain actor should speak louder or the scenery was not appropriate. Other times the review will ask why sound systems were not improved. All are done in a positive manner, supposedly. The reviews are not supposed to offend, and we hope none have. Also, we have learned that the reviews often help the student actors get better and improve their skills. Whether this happened because of the review or because the student just improved, we can't tell. Also, the reviews serve as a learning experience for the drama students who must get used to "critical reviews." Pictured with this blog is a scene from the Drama Program's last play, "Somewhere in the Middle."
Having said, the last drama production of the season - "Steel Magnolias" - was awesome. It was one of the best that I (Dr. Manuel Flores) have ever since at this university, dating back to the 1950s when I saw a King Lear production. Congratulations to all the cast members.
Let us know what you think of the reviews by our South Texan reporters. And, are you interested in joining our staff to do this type of story? Call. That's all.