Not your daddy’s theatre criticism : countering white supremacy culture with inclusive possibility models

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2021-07-24

Authors

Mikhaiel, Yasmin Zacaria

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Abstract

This thesis unveils Western theatre criticism’s alignment with white supremacy culture and offers possibility models to counter it on personal and institutional levels. I take an autoethnographic approach to my experiences working as an early-career critic to showcase steep barriers to entry, industry constraints, and present pathways forward. On an individual level, I advocate for critics to exercise cultural competency and develop a reflexive practice. I apply Donald Schön’s concepts of knowledge-in-action, reflection-in-action, and reflection-on-action to a critic’s process in order to demonstrate the harm that emerges in a critical practice that is not asset-based. I utilize close reading/listening and comparative analysis of written reviews, essays, podcasts, and web series to showcase how a diversity in critical form and thought productively serve artists, audiences, and archives. I offer four possibility models that aim to make the field more inclusive and sustainable: mentorship and expanding the form; cohort and contract model; culturally competent approach; and a reflexive practice. This thesis carries with it implications for the whole of journalism and its aspirations to due diligence and, impossibly, do no harm.

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