What is this section?

by Alan M. Berks • Nov. 1

After words | Criticism

What is this new blog, After words?

Most contemporary newspaper critics are required by their editors to squeeze a plot summary and a really broad sense of the show’s success or failure as a production into shrinking space. Unfortunately, basic plot and competence are not the reasons why people get jazzed about live performance.

We get excited by the unexpected emotions or ideas that a play or dance stirs up—a stunning moment, a horrifically bad scene, a confusing ending, an overwhelmingly attractive performance, a lot of good jokes, a shockingly new idea, the way the play reminds us of our mother. . . Conventional reviews don’t have time or space to delve into individual audience member’s idiosyncratic responses. We do.

In a conversation in a bar after a show once, local actor and Gremlin Theatre Artistic Director Peter Hansen pointed out that part of the fun of any live performance are the conversations we have afterward. You know how it goes—You’re clapping for the performers during the current call and already rifling through your mind for the closest restaurant or bar to settle into and hear what your friends thought. (Other times, of course, you’re thinking that you just need a drink, quick and stiff.)

In this space, we’re going to try to enter into and explore those post-show conversations that are an absolutely essential aspect of the experience. We’ll post our own impressions and bring in guest writers. We'll repost especially thoughtful audience reviews, and we'll try to keep the best conversations going for as long as possible.

(How do you get us to talk about your show? Post your show in the performance calendar! DO NOT SEND US A PRESS RELEASE.)

What is After words? It's about the experience of live performance in Minnesota and the ideas and impressions that we share afterwards.