The Global Mail, Australia's new and handsome online publication, opened its coverage of Australian arts and letters this Monday with a curious piece from arts editor Stephen Crittenden about theatre blogging.
"Now, everyone really is a critic," the article proclaimed, rather disingenuously. It featured a profile of controversial Sydney theatre blogger Jane Simmons, whose blog Shit On Your Play has been ruffling feathers in the Emerald City for her unflinching treatment of some of the city's recent new work. Simmons rather enjoys taking a blunt instrument to contemporary performance, reserving some of her most trenchant prose for wunderkinds Benedict Andrews and Simon Stone.
But Crittenden's uncritical puff-piece of Simmons has won few friends in the theatre blogging community. The tone of the piece, which seems constantly astonished that ordinary punters might go home and write reviews on personal websites, has rather grated on theatre bloggers, and indeed many in the performing arts community. After all, theatre blogging is scarcely a new phenomenon, and many are questioning the value of singling out Simmons, whose views on theatre traverse a rather narrow range between the reactionary and the self-aggrandising.