17 September 2013 / Past Events

The Critics’ Circle Centenary Conference

100 Years of Criticism: Key Changes
Friday 27 September 2013, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Embassy Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage NW3 6HY
(Opposite Hampstead Theatre, nearest Underground: Swiss Cottage)
Price: FREE to include tea and coffee; numbers are limited – advance booking essential

Critics, academics and members of the theatregoing public are warmly invited to this one-day conference, organised by the Drama Section of the Critics’ Circle with the generous support of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. A distinguished group of panellists and speakers (including Nica Burns, Nicholas de Jongh, David Eldridge, Lyn Gardner, Frances Hughes, Libby Purves, Michael Simkins [pictured] and Hattie Morahan) will address the roots of modern theatre criticism, describe how they go about it now, listen to the views of their targets and consider the future of professional theatre reviewing in a world of tweets and blogs.

Book NOW: send your name (and affiliation, if any) by e-mail to

Conference Outline Programme – subject to confirmation

9.30am – 10am Sign in

10am Welcome to Central
Gavin Henderson, Principal, Central School
Simon Tait, Critics’ Circle President

10.05am – 11am Historical session: How did it start?
Chair: Ian Herbert, Theatre Record
Frances Hughes, Chair of the Irving Society, on criticism a century ago
Nicholas de Jongh, critic and playwright, on critics and censorship
Open discussion

11am – 11.30am Coffee

11.20am – 12.30pm Theatre criticism now: What’s the point?
Chair: Libby Purves, The Times
Panel: to include Kate Bassett, Independent on Sunday
Mark Fisher, freelance
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
Open discussion

12.30pm – 1.30pm Lunch (not provided)

1.30pm – 2pm Guest speaker: Michael Simkins, actor and writer
Introduced by Heather Neill, Hon Sec of the Critics’ Circle Drama Section

2pm – 3pm Being Criticised: The industry view
Chair: Mark Shenton, Sunday Express
Panel: to include Nica Burns (producer)
David Eldridge (playwright)
Michelle Terry (actress)
and an artistic director
Open discussion

3pm – 3.30pm Tea

3.15pm – 4.15pm What Next? Challenges and solutions
Chair: Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Panel: Kerry Michael (artistic director, Theatre Royal, Stratford E15)
plus critics including Matt Trueman
Open discussion

4.15pm Closing Comments
Mark Shenton, Chair of the Critics’ Circle Drama Section
Followed by a wine reception

For more information, see the conference website.