One of the O’Neill’s oldest programs, the National Critics Institute is a two-week workshop, designed for arts writers and critics looking to strengthen their skills in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced industry. The Institute convenes annually at the O’Neill’s Waterford campus, concurrently with the National Playwrights Conference and the National Music Theater Conference.
Incoming director Chris Jones leads the “boot camp for arts writers” which offers fellows an intensive course of study for writers of all experience levels, especially for those in mid-career.
Programming includes writing workshops in the crafts of reviewing theater, film, performance and food; workshops in storytelling and analysis; workshops in writing more exciting profiles in the field of arts and entertainment; insights into the critical process with a faculty composed of America’s leading arts critics; explorations of the relationship of critics with social media; study of best practices when it comes blogging and other online sites; reviewing visits to other Connecticut theaters, and many opportunities to network with other critics and other creative professionals.
The workshop makes unique use of the creative professionals working in and around the O’Neill Center to help writers gain insights into the specialist areas of the arts, and to understand arts journalism from all sides.
Chris Jones , incoming Director of the National Critics Institute, notes, “We have expanded the range of this historic and prestigeous program this year to better reflect the needs of the changed profession. Although still centered on the art of reviewing the performing arts, fellows will now gain experience and insight in such areas as film and restaurant reviewing, along with help in such areas as smarter storytelling and the financial analysis of arts institutions. This is now the only such major program in America that focuses on arts criticism and reporting, and the faculty that teach here each year are a formidable group.”
Jones also said that there will be increased number of scholarships available this year to greatly assist qualified fellows with the cost of tuition, room and board. More details will be provided to applicants.
Chris Jones, Director, the chief theater critic and a Sunday cultural columnist of the Chicago Tribune, has reviewed and commented on culture, the arts, politics, and entertainment for the Chicago Tribune for more than 16 years. He also appears weekly on CBS-2 news in Chicago, and on the Tribune’sWGN Radio. Before joining the staff of the Tribune a decade ago, Dr. Jones wrote for many years for Variety and Daily Variety, publishing several hundred reviews and commentaries, especially of pre-Broadway tryouts. He also spent a short time as Variety's Broadway critic. He has twice served on the drama committee of the Pulitzer Prizes. His arts criticism also has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, theWashington Post, American Theatre Magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. He has taught criticism, arts writing and cultural reporting in several universities. He’s the author of a new history of theater criticism in Chicago, “Bigger, Brighter, Louder.”
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The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O’Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the recipient of two Tony Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theater, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence.
The O’Neill is the country’s preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. The O’Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O’Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.
O’Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, the Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute – which conducts semester-long intensive theater training, and a six-week summer program, Theatermakers.
In addition, the O’Neill owns and operates Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. Childhood summer home of Eugene O’Neill, the Cottage is a National Historic Landmark.