This site is the repository for the complete theater and opera reviews of Vic Cordell. That is me in the photo, with my wife Karin, who proofs and edits my material. While this is a new field for me, I’ve been a life-long theater lover. During my time as a professor, I did have extensive writing experience from publishing research papers and monographs and from being a journal editor and reviewer.
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 (not simultaneously) and a theater company, I applied and became a Theatre Bay Area Adjudicator, meaning that along with 100 or so others, I quantitatively evaluate productions, which become votes for Theatre Bay Area Awards, now in their third year. I was then accepted into the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, with a membership of around 30. Members make nominations for the SFBATCC Awards, which celebrate their 40th year in 2016. A proviso of acceptance into the Critics Circle was that I become a publishing reviewer. Starting in mid-2015, I have published over five a month on average. I have just been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association.
My complete theater reviews also appear at http://www.forallevents.com, which is a criticism consolidator for the Bay Area that permits more graphics than this site and is organized in a different fashion. About 1/3 of my reviews have also been published at http://www.TheatreStorm.com, which showcases a number of critics by invitation only, and allowing only one review per production.
As a final note, significant only to me, this site’s URL in non-Internet English would be Cordell Reports. My father was a research geologist whose last gig was researching and writing 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!