This site is a repository for theater and opera reviews of Vic Cordell. That is me in the photo, with my wife Karin, who proofs and edits my material. I’ve been a life-long theater lover. I had two careers, first as an international banker, which included living nine years in the U.K., Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. For my second career, I earned a Ph.D. in marketing and became a professor.
During my time as in academe, I did have extensive writing experience from publishing research papers and monographs and from being an academic journal editor and reviewer. To date, (March 2022), I have reviewed over 400 live performances in the last several years despite the involuntary sabbatical as a result of the pandemic. After contributing to several other Bay Area reviewing sites, my primary outlet became the events and reviews consolidator http://www.forallevents.com. That site crashed and went dark for 18 months. As a result, I have revived this site, but I also publish on For All Events again. In addition, I republish on the multi-arts, multi-market site, http://www.berkshirefinearts.com, which has remained active throughout.
My philosophy of criticism begins with the notion that nothing reaches the regional stage without great contributions of time and effort by people who in many cases have day jobs and are engaged in theater by the love of live performance. I try to respect the people who make these sacrifices. My first criticism of critics is that they are sometimes cruel, and I avoid slamming creative people with pejorative language. Another complaint is that critics can be single (and simple) minded, in arrogantly believing that their (sometimes preconceived) concept of how a show element should be executed is the only way, without accepting that other realizations have merit. I try to keep an open mind to different interpretation. Finally, it is a miracle that anything gets to the stage given the paltry resources most companies have to work with, so it is important to keep that perspective in mind and not hold producing companies to unrealistic standards. All of this is not to say that we shouldn’t criticize, but we should be mindful of civility and realities.
So am I qualified to evaluate performing arts? Not that it justifies my reviewing, there is a clear path that led to my becoming a reviewer. Having been on the boards of directors of three small opera companies (sequentially) and a theater company, I applied and became a Theatre Bay Area Adjudicator, meaning that along with 100 or so others, I quantitatively evaluated productions, which became votes for Theatre Bay Area Awards, which were instituted in 2014. The adjudicator program went inactive during the pandemic and has yet to revive.
As a result of my reviewing, I was then accepted into the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, with a membership of around 35. Members make nominations for the SFBATCC Awards, which have been granted for 45 years. I was also accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, of which I am an active member. Karin is an associate member of both SFBATCC and ATCA, and in fact, was the first person elected to that new category in the latter.
As a final note, significant only to me, this site’s URL in non-Internet English would be Cordell Reports. My father was a Ph.D. and petroleum geologist whose last gig was researching and writing book length appraisals of earth formations for the prospect of oil exploitation. They were called Cordell Reports. Like my reviews, they reached a small audience. The difference is that each reader paid several thousand dollars to get a copy of the review. No such luck for me so far, but maybe Dad’s good fortune will rub off on me!