Corrie Tan on Reviewing Theatre

In this series of six audio clips, Dr. Robin Loon interviews theatre critic Corrie Tan about critical writing for the stage. Corrie Tan was a former Straits Times journalist who reviewed theatre for six years at the paper. She also blogs about theatre on her website

The interview was conducted on 17 February 2015 at the National University of Singapore.

1. What Makes a Reviewer

“So I took a technical theatre class where I rigged lights and drilled sh*t.”

Corrie talks about the training she received in school, as an intern at the Straits Times, and as a rookie reporter. She also reflects on the importance of “institutional memory” to the theatre critic.

2. Looking at the Theatre Critic

“Whenever you’re part of an establishment paper, there will always be a fence.”

Corrie discusses the perception and role of the theatre critic in the industry.

3. Reviewing Techniques and Strategies

“Never use a pencil, because it makes a noise.”
Corrie shares how she goes about reviewing a theatre production.

4. Corrie Reviews Her Past Reviews (Part 1)

“ST should never let – and they’ve stopped – never let interns write
[reviews] ever again. I don’t know whether it’s because of me!”
Corrie candidly reviews her review of The Art of War, written in 2006 while interning at the Straits Times, and reflects on her growth as a theatre critic since then.

5. Corrie Reviews Her Past Reviews (Part 2)

“You just need two sentences. You need to tell people what they’re reading about.”

Corrie reviews her review of the dance theatre production Thunderstorm (2013).

6. Corrie Reviews Her Past Reviews (Part 3)

“It pains me a lot when I have to write a bad review.”

Corrie reviews her review of Tartuffe (2015) by Nine Years Theatre. In this clip, she shares how to write a negative but fair review.