Guest Critic Sam Thielman: Theater Criticism in America:
A print critic is part of a larger institution, too – one that reaches people who don’t necessarily read the paper for the theater section. An investment banker who wants to watch a good show will read Terry Teachout before he reads Playbill.com, so the quality – high as it frequently is – of a lot of the online theater writing is immaterial. New audience members, the kind the theater needs so desperately, are looking for a publication that they trust, and for now, they’re looking to print, or at least to general-interest websites.
Believe it or not, even in its currently reduced state criticism offers distinct pleasures for the critic (and no, a fat paycheck is no longer one of them). If you’re a warped, frustrated shell of a human being like myself, you find no greater joy than cackling over a beautiful little orphaned theater piece at a tiny off-Broadway house that no one can find, despite the best efforts of the show’s beleaguered, underpaid publicist. And, as soon as the performance is over, you shamble off to your cave to hunch over your computer for hours in an effort to tell someone about it.