How to Become a Theatre Critic

How to Become a Theatre Critic

If you have a love for theatre, and deeply enjoy writing, then why not consider a career that’s a natural extension of these interests?


With the digital age, job opportunities for theatre critics are more widely available than ever. What’s more, this field offers the opportunity to attend the theatre several nights a week, and do your writing from home.


If this career field sounds promising, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on what you’d be doing, how much you could make, and what you need to do to get into this field!



What is a Theatre Critic?

A theatre critic, also known as a theatre reviewer, is someone who attends and reviews theatric performances for newspapers, magazines, websites and other outlets.



Education Needed to Become a Theatre Critic

There is no set educational path for becoming a theatre critic; developing proper insight and honing the ability to articulate that insight into an entertaining and informative read are the most crucial skills for succeeding in this field. These skills can be gained with or without formal education. 


Many successful critics however, have educational backgrounds in areas such as Theatre, English Literature, or Journalism.




How to Become a Theatre Critic: Gaining Experience

There's no one obvious way into professional theatre journalism, but there are a no shortage of crafty back routes. Whether someone is hiring you as a freelance writer, or as a full-time employee, you will need a portfolio of your work to prove you’ve got the chops. Fortunately, there are many ways to build a portfolio. As a bonus, all of these techniques will also help you become more adept at writing theatre critiques and reviews.



Start a Blog: Start and maintain a theatre blog. If it's well written it will probably end up getting noticed. This may even turn into a decent, or full-time revenue source.


Write Free Reviews: When you first enter the field, you may have to do some writing for free. Take in some local plays and write reviews, offering them free to websites for posting or selling them on a freelance basis to local papers.


Write for the Student Newspaper: Working at your student newspaper is a great way to get a taste of what writing for a publication is all about. Your work might also catch the attention of professional writers, publishers, and theatre industry personnel, which could result in having your work published in magazines and newspapers. 



Tips for Success

Practice: There is no fast way to become a good writer, so practice, practice, practice! In other words, read and write. Dedicate some time to studying reviews written by existing professionals and write your own, with the end goal of making your reviews insightful and enjoyable.


Be well versed in the theatre industry: Have knowledge of what makes a play entertaining and worth a customer’s time and money.


Just go for it: With the digital age, there are a lot of theatre critics and reviewers out there now. But if you have something interesting to say, people will listen.



What You'd Be Doing: General Job Description

As a theatre critic, you would analyze every aspect of a production, including the storyline, venue and the actual performance. You would then craft an entertaining and informative opinion of that production, and submit it for publication.


If working as a self-employed theatre blogger, you would also be responsible for overseeing technical maintenance of your blog, developing and implementing a revenue model, and performing many other web management duties.



General Job Duties

Although the functions you would perform could vary from job to job, the tasks you would be responsible for would probably be very similar to those listed below:


• Attend theatrical performances

• Prepare review that includes analysis with factors such as theme, expression and technique

• Support opinion with examples from performance, without giving away the ending

• Make comparisons to other performances, productions and general industry standards

• Submit review for publication

• Build and maintain a portfolio (especially when just starting out)

• Promote review on social media accounts

• May be responsible for maintaining and overseeing content for blog or website





Is this Role Right for You?

You might be very well cut out for work as a theatre critic if you have the following personal characteristics and attributes:


• You have a keen interest in theatre and a love of writing

• You enjoy finding innovative ways to express your views

• You enjoy stimulating public interest and discussion

• You like the idea of being recognized for your specialized knowledge, creativity and experience

• You like to work independently, with self-direction

• You're willing to spend time and effort honing your craft

• You're willing to work your way into a very competitive field



Who Employs Theatre Critics?

As a theatre critic, you could work for the following types of organizations:


• Newspapers

• Theatre and arts community magazines (online and/or offline)

• Theatre blogs and websites

• Radio, television and web-based broadcasters


Some critics work as full time in-house employees for publications, although many are employed as freelancers. Some are even self-employed as magazine, website or blog owners.


Jobs with print media are considered to be vanishing, but they still exist. They are however, very competitive.


Fortunately, with the rise of digital media, all sorts of new opportunities are becoming available. Online magazines, blogs and other theatre-related digital outlets employ theatre critics. 



Theatre Critic Salary

The salary level you could earn as a theatre critic can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your reputation

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The medium in which you work (magazine, newspaper, online, etc.)

• Whether or not you’re self-employed


Unfortunately there is no salary information available from reliable sources for theatre critics. We can however, get a good idea of what you might earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related occupations.


Theatre Critic Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Journalists occupational group (which includes “newspaper critics”) is $58,000 per year.


Theatre Critic Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Writers and Authors occupational group is $58,850 per year.




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Work Environment

Work Setting: Your work would be split between two settings. The first would be the theatre, where you would attend performances. This could be virtually any kind of venue housing a performance, ranging from a tiny dive bar to a large modern theatre. The second setting would be where you do your writing. This could be anywhere from an office, to your home, to your local coffee shop.


Working Hours: Typically, composing your reviews would be but a small portion of your time. Most of it would be spent researching and attending performances, engaging with readers and industry personnel on social media, reading other reviews, responding to reader commentary, and other activities.



Careers Similar to ‘Theatre Critic’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as Theatre Critic:


• Blogger

• Columnist

• Film Critic

• Managing Editor

• Novelist

• Playwright

• Restaurant Critic




Salary information for this career guide, as well as other information, was retrieved from the websites listed below:


Occupations in Alberta:Critic.” (March 9, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Media & Communications:Writers and Authors.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Culture: Michael Billington on what you need to be a theatre critic.” Michael Billington (February 17, 2010). The Guardian website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Interview:Libby Purves OBE: Theatre Blogger Q&A.” (n.d.) From the Box Office website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Arts & Humanities:My job explained: Theatre critic.” (n.d.). Bright Knowledge website. Retrieved January 15, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Theatre Critic

The “Applicable Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a theatre critic. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on the following pages:


English Degree Scholarships

Journalism Scholarships

Theatre Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Theatre Critic: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a theatre critic. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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