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Maryland High School Theatre '04-'05

Theatre Critics Program

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Procedures for Maryland Critics

1. Proper Attire for Attending Theatre. As a Maryland High School Theatre Critic, you should dress up to attend a performance for review. If possible, men should wear suits and ties; girls should wear nice dresses, heels, and hose.
 
2. Behavior. Be on your best behavior at the theatre. Loud talking, shouting, and physical play only announce your poor taste and your inexperience as an audience member. Act with poise; be gracious
and polite so that you and everyone else will enjoy the occasion.
 
3. Responsibility as an Audience Member. Accept the responsibility of an audience member:
a. Be in a receptive mood, ready to enjoy, to laugh, to cry.
b. Allow your imagination to function. Suspend disbelief and enter the realm of theatre.
 
4. Notations. Even though your evaluation form is long and specific, it is important that you spend your time in the theatre enjoying the show. Make notations only at intermission and after the final curtain. When you meet with the mentors and other critics after the show, take the time to make notations while they are fresh in your mind. When you arrive home, make sure you review your evaluation
form and list a few more items before they fade away from memory.
 
5. Writing Your Critique. Write your critique as soon as possible. This might be after you arrive home from the show. Most professional critics are required to do this after opening nights so the reviews can appear in the morning papers --- a theatrical tradition. Definitely write your critique the next day.  First, judge each area --- the play, acting, directing, staging, and audience response --- according to Goethe's three principles. Under principle number two, include specific drama criteria for "How well the artists performed." Determine:
1. If the artists were successful in achieving their purposes.
2. Does the production successfully contain the necessary elements in the genre it claims to be a part of?
3. Were the techniques of acting and directing effective?
Then, write your critique evaluating the entire production, as dependent upon the parts. Always be sure to substantiate your opinions with specific examples and sound reasons.
 
6. Scheduling. Critics will be asked to sign-up for shows at our initial meeting. Critics must sign-up for a minimum of 4 shows to review. By signing -up to attend and review a show, MHST will make sure you will have one free ticket to the show.
 
7. Commitment. You are committing to 1. being on time 2. attending a pre-show meeting 3. attending intermission meeting 4. attending an after show meeting (c. 45 minutes) 5. Writing and submitting a
review to the MHST Mentors 6. Writing reviews that will be positive, objective, and reflective.  7. Maintaining a, policy of confidentiality as to what is said by yourself, other critics, and the
mentors at all times --- before, during, and after a show. Discussions with mentors and other critics are freee and open, but confidentiality must be adhered to outside of these discussions.
 
8. Emergency Absence. If a personal or familial emergency might prevent you from attending a show, please e-mail one of your assigned mentors. Absentees must arrange with their Mentor a makeup date within 3 days of their absentee occurrence.
 
9. Arrival at Review Location. Be sure to arrange transportation to and from the show you will review.  We urge you to come with friends, but, remember, we cannot provide free tickets for them. Please
arrive 45 minutes before the opening curtain. Ask directions to the Maryland Critics Room and go there for your pre-show meeting with your Mentor. Be sure to bring your Maryland Theatre Critics Badge
and your Maryland Theatre Critics Folder and a pen/pencil. Please Sign-in!
 
10. After Show Meeting. After show meetings will include a discussion with student critics and Mentors on any questions, observations, or critical points. Mentors will review e-mail process and deadlines as well as any other details for critics and Mentors to complete.
 
11. Loss of Critic Privileges and Status. Critics who do not submit a review after attending a show must pay for their ticket. Critics missing more than one show or not submitting additional reviews will be dropped from the Critics Program.
 
12. Critics must leave the Evaluation Form with the Mentor at the end of the After-the-Show Meeting.  You must be sure to take notes from the fonDS so you write a good review.
 
13. Due Dates for Reviews. For shows reviewed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays, you must submit a review to your Mentor bye-mail no later than 10 am on Sunday morning. For Saturday evening
shows, the deadline is Sunday at 2 pm. Late reviews cannot be considered for publication, but must be sent so we can give them to the schools who were reviewed.
 
14. Reviewer Recognition. Participants of this Review Program will be considered for recognition by Maryland High School Theatre for their service to high school theatre as well as for the literary talent
they might exhibit in writing reviews.
 
15. DO's and DONT's for Maryland Reviewers.
 
The Critics Charge Before you complete the above evaluation, you must be aware of the critic's obligations --- the ethics of the field. Always respect the following do's and don'ts:
 
DO:
  1. Back up all of your opinions with valid reasons based on appropriate standards. It is you right to agree or disagree with others, only if you soundly substantiate your opinion.
  2. Be objective and fair. Realize your own prejudices and make the necessary allowances for them. Always keep an open mind. Be guided not only by your reactions but by those of the audience.
  3. Evaluate the whole production. Take into consideration the five major areas under review: The Play, the Acting, the Direction, the Staging, and the Audience Response.
  4. Be constructive. Indicate good points along with those that need improvement. This is particularly important when reviewing high school plays where perfonners often profit more from praise than from adverse comments. Whatever the criticism, be diplomatic. Rather than saying something is awful or bad, label it as "needing improvement."
  5. Be sincere. Believe what you say. The opinion must be yours and not that of someone else. Certainly, in many cases you can be guided by professional critics, but you must learn to develop your own beliefs that are grounded in knowledge and understanding.
 
DON'T:
  1. Don't be constantly negative.
  2. Don't be clever at the expense of the artist. Your purpose is to evaluate, not ridicule.
  3. Don't be overly critical. Always approach a perfonnance with an attitude of enjoying it. If you constantly look for something wrong, you can't possibly give a fair review. Don't dwell on minute mishaps such as fluffing on a line, unless their abundance obscures the total picture.
  4. Don't be arrogant. Any judge needs humility, understanding, and kindness.

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This page updated Sept 23, 2004

Maryland High School Theatre, Inc (MHST) is a non profit organization (501(C)3), which is not affiliated with Magruder High School, Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery County Government, or any other school or school district, or any other organization. MHST, Inc is solely liable for all activities and events. MHST, Inc is the exclusive owner of all materials presented herein, reproduction without authorization is prohibited. All materials, activities, and events, created by MHST, Inc, are intended for educational purposes only.