During my three year stint providing performance arts coverage in the Twin Cities for the Examiner.com, I’ve tended to avoid using the first-person voice in my reviews. Though author bias is an inextricable part of reviewing, I’ve endeavored to critique beyond the limitations of my own personal prejudice, appraising each work not against some checklist of preconceived expectations, but in context of how successfully a show fulfills its commitment to deliver a remarkable experience. Having at least attempted such modest authorial anonymity, I can hopefully be forgiven the self-absorbed nature of this, my final article with the Examiner.com.
When first invited to cover “performance arts” for the Examiner.com, I experienced some inner misgivings. My main concern was that the topic was just too vast, too open-ended, to be done justice by any one writer. Even so, I was lured by the autonomy to seek out divergent forms, mixing traditional with experimental, immersing myself in the boundless creativity available in every corner of our community. I was free to define, revise, or discard the very definition of performance art, incorporating mixed media events and cinema retrospectives alongside theatre, opera, and dance. Excepting those I imposed, there were no boundaries.
I was correct in my presumption that no one person could possibly cover the sheer volume of performance arts in the Twin Cities. Nevertheless, I had an incredible time giving it a shot.
My very first review for the Examiner.com was on Jon Ferguson’s bracing adaption of Animal Farm at the Southern Theater. Sitting in the darkened theater, scribbling in the margins of the program (because I had neglected to bring a notepad), I reconnected with the thrill of watching with a critical eye, committing to detailing those moments of singular inspiration…and those that fell short.
From that moment I was hooked, journeying to venues revered and obscure, reviewing everything from grandiose world premieres to shoestring budgeted revivals, sitting with sold-out crowds in ornate arenas or joining a handful of patrons on foldout chairs in renovated storage spaces. Whatever the occasion, the work spoke for itself; some shows astonished, some shows fizzled, but each left an indelible impression that I did my best to convey.
Nothing has been more gratifying than calling attention to those productions whose creative daring pushed into new and unpredictable directions, ventured forth by the talented assemblage of casts, crews, and companies whose collective vision has placed the Twin Cities in an artistic class of its own.
Stepping away from the Examiner.com, I leave with an enormous appreciation for all those shows I’ve had the privilege to cover. Depending on which way the winds blow, I may or may not pop up doing reviews for other sources down the road. For now, though, it’s a safe bet that I’ll still be in the audience.
Hope to see you there.