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Volume 34, Number 2 (2013)

The Feminist Spectator As Blogger: Creating Critical Dialogue About Feminist Theatre On The Web

February 20, 2014


From blogging, to YouTube-ing, to social networking, feminist theatre audiences and artists are increasingly using the Internet to shift the power dynamics in their relationship to mainstream critics. This is not only reshaping the discourse surrounding theatre, but also working toward the broader cultural change that Jill Dolan envisioned as an outcome of exposing the ideological underpinnings of performance and criticism in her landmark book, The Feminist Spectator as Critic. In this article I consider how alternative critical practices made possible by the web address problems posed by the static, single-authored nature of traditional theatre criticism. Through a survey of feminist theatre reviewing in the blogosphere and a brief case study of Montreal-based performer Pol Pelletier’s web activities, I investigate what blogging means for the feminist audiences and artists who practice it, the mainstream critics whose profession it threatens, and the scholars who rely on reviews in their own work as critics and historians. I argue that while blogging provides a means for feminist spectators and artists to address key gender issues present in both theatre and criticism, its potential to transform these institutions is rooted in its negotiation of two key functions: on the one hand, its ability to “preach to the converted” and create community, and on the other, its ability to navigate more mainstream spaces on the web and engage with hegemonic critical discourse.