Should ‘critics’ review drama school productions?

A while ago I watched two friends have a debate about whether or not critics should be invited in to drama schools, to review end of year productions. I sat there (like the Angela Lansbury GIF of her eating popcorn) and found the difference in opinion very interesting and could really see both sides of the argument. One the one hand, these students are in training and should feel safe in the cocoon of drama school, only to be judged by their teachers. But equally, these students are setting themselves up for a life of being critiqued, receiving reviews for their work, which may be both positive and negative. Is part of the training process not to make them understand that they should take reviews of their work for what they are, and not to let them define themselves and their career going forward?

I asked online earlier this week ‘Should critics review drama school productions?’ and was met with a huge response. 86% of people said ‘no’ critics should not be reviewing drama school productions with comments like “at college you’re allowed to be in a safe environment, a safety net, where it is ok to make mistakes, learn and grow. It can be a wonderful positive time but it can also be an overwhelming and vulnerable one.”

But there was also some (14%) support for ‘yes’ critics should review drama school productions with comments like “learning to deal with constructive criticism is essential to becoming the best artist you can be” and “surely it gives actors exposure which may lead to jobs in the future?”

I receive many invitations to review drama school productions, something which I have never taken up (mostly due to time constraints) and so I reached out to one who contacted me recently, to ask for their reasoning for why they do invite people along to review their shows.

Head of Musical Theatre Dan Bowling at the Royal Academy of Music said:
“There has been much discussion on this issue, particularly on social media. Here at the Academy we believe it is incredibly important for critics to see the work of emerging artists, not only our student company but also the creative teams that we hire to direct our students.

“I understand that for an undergraduate programme it is a much more delicate scenario, but as we run a one-year graduate programme that endeavours to act as a direct bridge into the industry, inviting a level of professional scrutiny makes sense.”

So what do you think? Should critics review drama school productions? Let me know on social media!


Buy tickets to West End theatre shows (some great discounted offers)
Subscribe to my mailing list for all the latest theatre news, special offers and competitions