Michael Feingold, Longtime Critic, Let Go from Village Voice

By Robert Simonson
20 May 2013

Michael Feingold
Michael Feingold
Photo by Krissie Fullerton

Michael Feingold, the long-serving lead drama critic of The Village Voice, and one of the most senior voices within the New York theatre critics corps, was let go from that post May 17.

The day of bloodletting at the 58-year-old alternative weekly also included the departure of respected restaurant critic Robert Sietsema and gossip columnist Michael Musto, both of whom had been with the paper for 20 years or more.

The timing of Feingold's dismissal was particularly curious in that it came just days before the Obie Awards. The Obies, created in 1955 by then Voice theatre critic Jerry Tallmer, honor the best of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. The ceremony is one of the most high-profile events on the Village Voice calendar. For decades, Feingold has sat on the committee that decides the awards, which are presented without nominations.

The current turmoil at the Village Voice began May 9, when editors Will Bourne, who became editor last November, and Jessica Lustig, the deputy editor since January, walked out rather than meet management's demands that the 20-person stuff be cut by 25 percent.



The May 20 Obie Awards ceremony will be hosted by Jessica Hecht and Jeremy Shamos. The event is usually marked by Feingold's reading a list of artists who had passed away during the previous two months.

"We plan for the Obie Awards to continue as an annual event to serve Off-Broadway and the downtown theatre community. We will continue to bestow grants and prize money to the outstanding work that our guest judges and the Obie panel select," said Village Voice publisher Josh Fromson in a statement. "It is my sincere hope that Michael Feingold, named a two-time Pulitzer finalist for criticism, who has been invited to continue his association with the Voice by serving as Chairman of the Obie Awards will accept this offer. We also hope that he will continue to contribute to the Village Voice."

Michael Feingold, 68, began writing for The Village Voice in 1971. His columns are known for the erudition and understanding of theatre history, both ancient and modern, and how current plays fit in with that continuum. Aside from John Simon, Feingold probably possesses more first-hand knowledge of New York stage history than any other currently working theatre critic. He has won the coveted George Jean Nathan Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. In 2001-02, he was named a Senior Fellow of the National Arts Journalism Program. He is also the author of numerous play translations and adaptations, as well as libretti.

A graduate of Columbia University and the Yale School of Drama, Feingold was the first Literary Manager of the Yale Repertory Theatre, and subsequently served as Literary Director of The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and Literary Manager of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA.

Earlier this season Obie Awards chairman Brian Parks, the Arts and Culture editor of The Village Voice, was also dismissed from the paper.