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Guardian ends contract with critic Lyn Gardner after 23 years

Lyn Gardner. Photo: The Stage Lyn Gardner. Photo: The Stage/Catherine Gerbrands
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Theatre journalist Lyn Gardner is having her reviews and features coverage completely cut from the Guardian after 23 years.

Industry leaders, including deputy director at the Royal Shakespeare Company Erica Whyman and Sherman Theatre artistic director Rachel O’Riordan, have labelled the move “shortsighted”.

Gardner’s contract, which ends on June 1, includes 130 reviews a year and 28,000 words of features.

The critic and journalist, who is also associate editor at The Stage, was told the contract was being discontinued because the newspaper had decided she was not part of their long-term plans for theatre coverage.

“I’m very sad. I’ve enjoyed having the Guardian as a platform over the years, it’s allowed me to plough a particular furrow where I have been able to investigate what theatre might be and where it might happen and that’s been immensely rewarding.

“Theatre has been very good to me, it has been immensely exciting to chart the changes and developments that have taken place,” she said.

Gardner added: “I feel I have been very lucky to be a critic at a time when theatre has been changing so much. I certainly hope I will find other platforms where I can continue to write.”

This follows news in March last year that Gardner was having her 150 theatre blogs per year cut from the Guardian, which is known to be undergoing financial difficulties.

Figures from across theatre have criticised the move, with Whyman tweeting: “Oh Lyn. I’m so sorry. For all of us and for our audiences. Up for a fight. Much love to you.”

Playwright Dan Rebellato branded the news “appalling”.

Writing on Twitter, he added: “There aren’t many critics who make a serious difference to the profile and fabric of British theatre but Lyn does, almost every day. @guardianstage MUST rethink.”

Others to comment included actors Gabby Wong and Caroline Sheen.

Wong said: “@lyngardner champions new and diverse voices, opens up discussion even when a show may not be to her taste, first one to question the imbalance in British Theatre landscape for East Asian artists in wake of Orphan of Zhao-gate, consistently reviews to regional/fringe.”

Sheen added: “Incredibly sad to read of this. Hope there is someone with sense out there to offer you another platform where we can read your work.”

Telegraph Theatre critic Dominic Cavendish said Lyn was “irreplaceable”.

​A spokesman for the Guardian News and Media said: “Lyn has been a valued contributor to the Guardian for more than two decades, but we have decided to look to add some new voices to our arts coverage.

“Our commitment to coverage of the theatre remains absolute. We wish Lyn all the best in her work with The Stage and elsewhere.”

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