Stage Door News

Stratford: The Stratford Festival and Intermission Magazine launch IBPOC Critics Lab

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Stratford Festival and Intermission Magazine are partnering to launch a development lab for theatre critics who are Indigenous, Black or people of colour. The IBPOC Critics Lab will offer a group of emerging theatre critics a seven-week curriculum taught by industry leaders, and will include a residency at the Stratford Festival.

The initiative takes inspiration from The BIPOC Critics Lab founded by Jose Solís in the U.S. Solís will bring his expertise to lead the Canadian Lab, which will also feature guest lectures from Canadian arts writers who are Indigenous, Black or persons of colour.

The Canadian Critics Lab is also led by Karen Fricker, theatre critic for the Toronto Star and editorial advisor at Intermission Magazine. She has also written for Variety (U.S.), The Guardian (U.K.), and is an adjunct professor of Dramatic Arts at Brock University. Fricker is organizing the Critics Lab along with Ann Swerdfager, the Stratford Festival’s publicity director and a former journalist.

The IBPOC Critics Lab will welcome its first cohort this June and July. Participants will have access to a faculty of eight instructors and mentors who are Indigenous, Black or persons of colour, ranging from established and widely read theatre critics to successful emerging arts writers with a deep understanding of the obstacles newcomers may face in trying to break into the business.

The program is open to people who have not yet written theatre criticism but wish to pursue it and to those who already have some experience in the field and would like to expand their craft.

Following the tenets of dialogue, compassion and nurturing one’s unique voice, participants in the Critics Lab will contribute to the creation of a custom program that fits their specific needs and encourages them to pursue the path of criticism that best serves them. Criticism will be approached through a multimedia lens, including podcasting, audiovisual techniques, social media and written work.

Participants and instructors will come together virtually throughout the late spring and early summer, attending and discussing community-based productions as well as filmed performances accessed via the Stratford Festival’s streaming platform, Stratfest@Home.

In early July, Solís will bring the cohort to Stratford for an in-person residency at the Stratford Festival, where they will attend a number of this season’s productions. They will be able to gather together for lively discussion about the shows and will also have the opportunity to interact with artists and others at the Festival.

IBPOC Critics Lab participants will create two articles for Intermission and leave with those published pieces, as well as practical knowledge of editorial process, tools for decolonization, and a reminder that it is important to honour their individual voices first in order to honor the culture and art forms they’re covering.

Applications open on March 14 and must be submitted by April 7, 2023. The call for participation and application form are available here.

About Jose Solís:

Jose Solís began his career as a critic at age 16 when he launched a film review website while living in Honduras, where he was born. He began writing about theatre while attending college in Costa Rica, and upon moving to NYC in 2012 focused entirely on the stage. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, American Theatre, TDF Stages, The National Catholic Reporter, Encore Monthly, Backstage, Rotten Tomatoes, 3Views and America Magazine. He is also the creator of Token Theatre Friends, a weekly web series/podcast where he talks to some of the most influential theatre artists working today.

In 2020 he was selected as the Floria Lasky Visiting Artist at Hunter College in New York City, where he hosted the Wed@One series. The same year he started the BIPOC Critics Lab, a workshop to train the cultural critics of the future.

He is currently based in Madrid, Spain, where he’s completing a master’s program in Cultural Criticism and Theory at the Universidad Carlos III.