Interview with Cordelia Lee

Centre 42 is currently looking for aspiring theatre critics to join the 2018 cycle of Citizens’ Reviews! The programme is about to enter its fifth edition, and in this series of interviews, we ask our current reviewers to share more about what the journey has been like for them, as well as what they make of the arts criticism scene in Singapore right now. Here is Cordelia Lee, a second-year Theatre Studies and English Linguistics double major at the National University of Singapore who joined Citizens’ Reviews in 2017.

If you’d like to apply to become a Citizen Reviewer for our 2018, we are currently accepting applications until 22 October. Find out more about the open call and how you can get involved here.

What did you enjoy most about the Citizens’ Reviews programme?
Walking up to the front-of-house and claiming my complimentary ticket. That, and of course the wide variety of local productions that I’ve been exposed to! From applied theatre productions to intercultural pieces – reviewing as part of the programme has piqued my interest in forms of theatre I never knew I would enjoy (i.e mandarin children’s musicals)

What were some of the challenges you faced as a Citizen Reviewer?
Choosing which elements of the performance to include in each review. It’s terribly difficult to write a succinctly at times, and I struggle with keeping to my word limit.

What did you learn from the programme?
To compliment accordingly, and critique responsibly with evidence – you can be a bitch, but don’t be an unreasonable bitch.

What do you think of the arts (and especially theatre) reviewing scene in Singapore right now?
It is important to cultivate a generation of theatre reviewers in the scene who critically analyse a performance. One too many reviewers do little more than give readers a summary of a production’s narrative. We don’t need spoilers!

Who are some of the theatre critics you follow/enjoy reading?
John Simon, who doled out witty, and often stinging, reviews for the New York Magazine for four decades. And of course, Lyn Gardner from The Guardian.

Interview by Gwen Pew on 28 September 2017

Find out more about the Citizens’ Reviews programme here.