The Stage Critic Search 2016: Meet the reviewers of the future

The Stage Critic Search is seeking the theatre reviewers of the future, though the days of a long-standing tenure with one newspaper are gone. Photo: Mitrija/Shutterstock
Photo: Mitrija/Shutterstock
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The 12 finalists in The Stage Critic Search have been announced this week.

In April, The Stage launched its second annual search – part of an ongoing commitment
to nurturing new critical voices around the country – to find the best new critics in the UK, aged 18 or over.

After receiving more than 280 entries from the length and breadth of the UK, our judging panel selected 12 regional finalists. The process was anonymised throughout – none of the judges knew the identities of those who had submitted entries.

In the next stage, all of the finalists will be mentored by established theatre critics, including The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner and the London Evening Standard’s Henry Hitchings. They will each submit a review of a show local to them, which will be published in The Stage. Our judging panel will then pick a final three, and the overall winner will be selected later in the summer.

The winner of Critic Search 2016 will receive £1,000 and the opportunity to review regularly in The Stage. Last year’s winner was Dave Fargnoli, who said that winning the competition “has been an unparalleled springboard into the industry”.


Sally-JackEast Midlands: Sally Jack

Mentor: Alice Saville, Exeunt

Sally is a writer, editor and poet based in Leicester. She reviews for British Theatre Guide and is spoken word (Midlands) editor for Sabotage Reviews. Sally also co-created and co-runs Upstairs at the Western, Leicester’s first pub theatre, and is media manager of Off the Fence.

Fergus-MorganEast of England: Fergus Morgan

Mentor: Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard

Fergus is a recent graduate leading a nomadic life between Oxford, Suffolk and north London’s fringe theatres. He has reviewed theatre since university, and starts a masters in theatre criticism at Royal Central School in October.

Ian-ShineLondon: Ian Shine

Mentor: Sarah Hemming, Financial Times

Ian lives in London and works as a sub-editor at the Financial Times’ How to Spend It magazine. He writes short stories, which have appeared in publications including Litro, the National Flash-Fiction Day anthologies and Firewords.

Sarah-ScottNorth East: Sarah Scott

Mentor: Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

Newcastle-based Sarah Scott occasionally performs in shows and works in areas as diverse as storytelling and probation. She reviews theatre and opera, in an volunteer capacity, for Northern Echo and the Evening Chronicle.

Steve-TimmsNorth West: Steve Timms

Mentor: Maddy Costa, Dialogue

Steve studied theatre at Huddersfield University. In 1997 he won The Independent on Sunday’s young journalist of the year award. He has written several plays, including American Beer (BBC Radio 4), and is a recipient of the Peggy Ramsay award.

Cathy-BrownNorthern Ireland: Cathy Brown

Mentor: Sam Marlowe, The Times

Cathy is an arts officer from Northern Ireland, managing the Oriel Gallery and the Old Courthouse Theatre in Antrim. A mother of five-year-old twins and an avid reader, she runs the blog 746 Books and contributes to Irish entertainment website No More Workhorse.

Jan-DicksonScotland: Janice Dickson

Mentor: Thom Dibdin, The Stage

Born in Ayrshire and (by her own admission) too opinionated to remain there, Janice moved to Glasgow in 1990 and now teaches t’ai chi. She is very excited to have got this far in The Stage’s Critic Search 2016.

Edward-ClarkeSouth East: Edward Clark

Mentor: Matt Trueman, WhatsOnStage, Variety

Edward is a freelance broadcast journalist and writer who studied English at Warwick University. Originally from Kent, he splits his time between London and the Midlands.

Kate-WyverSouth West: Kate Wyver

Mentor: Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Kate is reading theatre at Bristol University. She was deputy editor of the National Student Drama Festival’s magazine Noises Off, won the Sunday Times Harold Hobson Student Drama Critic Award and writes for Exeunt and Epigram.

Jaclyn martinWales: Jaclyn Martin

Mentor: Neil Norman, The Stage, Daily Express

Jaclyn has a qualification in technical theatre and takes an active role in her local theatre community. She began publishing reviews on her blog in 2012 and now also writes for a review website and her local newspaper.

Will-ThomasWest Midlands: Will Thomas

Mentor: Andrew Haydon, Postcards from the Gods

Will studied theatre and performance at the University of Warwick, where he now works as the project manager for open days. He makes films, takes photos and writes about theatre and television.

Gil-CollinsonYorkshire: Gil Collinson

Mentor: Roger Foss, The Stage

Scarborough-based writer-artist Gil bridges the gap between critic and author. Her achievements include contributing to the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s 60 by 60 celebrations, and reciting from Antony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth art work in Trafalgar Square in 2009.

thestage.co.uk/criticsearch

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