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Glen Weldon, who’s been writing about theater for City Paper since January 2007, was awarded a two-week fellowship at the Annenberg NEA Arts Institute at the University of Southern California. The program, according to the announcement, provides “intensive training for theater critics and their editors who work outside the country’s major media markets.” Ouch! Hey, Jake Tapper works in D.C.! That’s major, right? ANYWAY, I was gonna call him and do a proper interview, but then I thought, Hey, why kill myself? I asked Glen to write up an interview with himself. And if you don’t want to read that, at least spend some time with three of my favorite reviews he’s done:
- The Price and Portia Coughlin (3/21/08)
- Maria/Stuart and Jerry Springer: The Opera (8/29/08)
- The “Beckett Duo” (11/7/08)
Glen even sent a headline, which, characteristically, I declined to use.
CP Theater Reviewer to Hie His Pasty Ass Out to L.A. for NEA Fellowship Thingy
Hey back, and thanks.
So what is this thing you won, exactly?
It’s officially called — um, hold on a minute, I’m gonna need the press release for this — a Fellowship at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California.
“Institute in Theater and Musical Theater”?What, they teach how to do jazz hands?
You are not the first to make that particular joke. Ass.
So what’s involved?
Next month, I’ll join 22 other theater critics and arts journalists for 10 days in LA for what promises to be a pretty intensive workshop environment. We’ll see a boatload of theater, write a lot (and very quickly) and take master classes with big muckety muck critics and assorted theater types.
It’s training, really. Think the first half of Full Metal Jacket, if Vincent D’Onofrio knew all the words to “I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say No.”
There’s also a strong component of the Fellowship geared to “multimedia and digital skill-building” which I think has something to do with navigating non-WYSIWYG GUIs. Or random assemblages of letters to that effect.
So what do you hope to accomplish?
Um, to suck less?To decrease my net level of suckage?
Seriously: How do you think you’ll be different, after this experience?
Maybe I’ll get fitted for an opera cape? That I can sort of swish and snap around, to express my displeasure at missed lighting cues? Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?
And if the Fellowship affects me like it affected Graham, who was in the first class of Fellows back in aught-five, I’ll probably use words like “delicious” in my reviews a lot more often than I do now.
Seriously: The point of it, I think, is pretty much to help me develop the kind of skills that the, er, changing environment (read: apocalyptic wasteland) of arts journalism demands.
I take reviewing very seriously, and it doesn’t come easy. It takes time. I don’t expect that a two-week program, however intensive or instructive, could flick some inner switch such that I would suddenly find it easy to critique the hard work of poorly compensated artists. I kind of hope that bit never gets easy.
But if it helps me come closer to capturing the totality of a given theatrical experience, well – it’s worth the trip to Los Angeles, and accompanying risk of heat stroke and body dysmorphic disorder.
This is all pretty cool, no?
Well, it makes me happy.But I should make it clear that there’ve been plenty of DC folks who’ve been chosen as Fellows before. Besides Graham, there’s been Tom Avila at MetroWeekly, Missy Frederick at DCist, and Beverly Lindsay-Johnson at WHUT.
And this year, DCist’s Chris Klimek is a fellow…um, Fellow.
So, you know: DC represent!
As the kids say.