STRATFORD, ON: The Stratford Festival and Intermission Magazine have partnered to launch a development lab for Canadian-resident theatre critics who are Indigenous, Black, or people of color. Inspired by the BIPOC Critics Lab founded by Jose Solís in the U.S., the IBPOC Critics Lab will offer a group of emerging theatre critics a seven-week curriculum taught by industry leaders, as well as guest lectures from IBPOC Canadian arts writers, and will include a residency at the Stratford Festival.
Solís will lead the Canadian Lab along with Karen Fricker, theatre critic for the Toronto Star and editorial advisor at Intermission Magazine. The Lab will be organized by Fricker and Ann Swerdfager, the Stratford Festival’s publicity director and a former journalist.
The first cohort of the IBPOC Critics Lab will convene this June and July. Participants will have access to a faculty of eight instructors and mentors ranging from established and widely read theatre critics to successful emerging arts writers with a deep understanding of the obstacles faced by newcomers to the business. The program is open to both those who have not yet written theatre criticism but wish to pursue it, and to those with some experience in the field who would like to expand their craft. Applications are now open and must be submitted by April 7.
Participants 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, incorporating 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 several of this season’s productions. They will be able to gather together to discuss the shows and interact with artists and others at the Festival.
IBPOC Critics Lab participants will create two articles for Intermission and leave the program with those published pieces, as well as practical knowledge of editorial process, tools for decolonization, and a reminder to honor their individual voices.
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