It's fairly common to hear concerned theatre folks talk in worried tones about the next generation of theatergoers--whether young folks raised on Wii and YouTube can become an engaged audience for live theatre, whether high ticket prices are a barrier, and so on. Indeed, among the mandates of Theatre Development Fund's education programs
is to help build the "audiences of tomorrow" among New York area high school students by introducing them to the best Broadway and Off-Broadway shows around.
You hear a lot less about who might be the theatre critics
of tomorrow. After all, does any kid dream of reviewing theatre for a living? Maybe so. One of the means by which TDF's educating mission is carried out is the quarterly publication Play by Play
, in which teens write reviews and features about shows they've seen.
Expanding on this idea, TDF recently launched the Play by Play blog, a.k.a. "Plog
"--a frequently updated forum for a group of talented high school-age theatre buffs to write blog-style reviews and other musings.
These include Bayside High senior Hannah Perri, a budding musician and film buff who says she loves theatre because "you get immersed into a story that's acted out live in front of you. You can forget about life for a moment and sit back and enjoy all the hard work and effort put into that production."
Fordham High 10th-grader Cynthia Cruz has a particular fondness for musicals because, as she puts it, "I love the way an orchestra can make such a wonderful sound in unison."
The youthful writers on the Plog speak in anything but unison, whether they're covering vibrant Broadway shows like In the Heights
, action-packed Off-Broadway offerings like Jump
, hard-hitting dramas like August: Osage County
, or crowd pleasers like Mamma Mia!
Though it's not certain that these young scribes will be the Brantleys and Isherwoods of tomorrow, their critical voices join a lively dialogue about the theatre and its future in a multimedia world. The kids are all writing, and the theatre seems the better for it.