Vampire, Cheerleader, Hedonist, Snob: Anatomy of a Critic & the Dubious Future of My Profession
McGlothlin Center for the Arts, Main Stage —
30481 Garnand Drive, Emory, Virginia
After 20 years as an artist, advocate, critic and pundit for New York City theater, David Cote looks back on this bizarre activity: sitting in the dark scribbling illegible notes, then squinting at a computer, trying to make sense of a memory of art.
Where does the urge to criticize come from? What’s the best way to practice it? And in the age of Yelp and Twitter, can any of it rise above the noise? If in fact everyone’s a critic, then nobody is a critic, at least in the era-defining tradition of Kenneth Tynan, Pauline Kael and Clement Greenberg. But if culture is to evolve, if canons are to be torn down and replaced, art can’t happen in a marketing echo chamber or aesthetic vacuum. Cote will move from humorous personal observations to a historical survey of the role of the critic—from Aristotle to Amazon.com.
David Cote is theater editor and chief drama critic of Time Out New York. His essays, criticism and reporting have appeared in The New York Times, American Theatre, The Guardian, Opera News, Salon and elsewhere. He appears as a contributing critic on NY1’s On Stage and is a longstanding member of the New York Drama Critics Circle. David has written companion books to the hit Broadway musicals Wicked, Jersey Boys and Spring Awakening. He has contributed several essays to The Best Plays Theater Yearbook series. In 2011-12 he taught a seminar in the theory and practice of arts criticism at Brooklyn College. In addition to his journalism, David is a playwright, lyricist and opera librettist. His opera with composer Robert Paterson, Three Way, will have its world premiere at Nashville Opera in January 2017, after which it will travel to BAM in New York. His play Otherland was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. His opera with composer Stefan Weisman, The Scarlet Ibis, premiered to critical and audience acclaim in New York’s Prototype Festival in 2015. Other libretti include Fade (with Weisman) and We’ve Got Our Eye on You (composer Nkeiru Okoye, commissioned by SUNY New Paltz). His choral works with Paterson, Did You Hear? and Snow Day, were sung by Musica Sacra, conducted by Kent Tritle and released on Eternal Reflections (American Modern Recordings). From 1996 to 1999, David cofounded and edited the downtown ’zines OFF: A Journal of Alternative Theater and EdgeNY. In the 1990s, David was an actor and director, working with avant-garde icon Richard Foreman, Iranian exile auteur Assurbanipal Babilla, and writer-director Richard Maxwell. He directed the world premiere of Babilla’s acclaimed monologue, Something Something Über Alles (Das Jackpot), as well as the 2013 revival starring Robert Honeywell. David lives in Manhattan with his wife, audiobook narrator Katherine Kellgren. Fellowships: The MacDowell Colony. Member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. Bachelor of Arts Bard College.