Everyone's a Critic: Chris Jones on the Changing State of Journalism and Interacting With Readers

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30 Jul 2014

Chris Jones
Chris Jones

Chicago Tribune theatre critic and director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Critics Institute Chris Jones talks with Playbill.com about the state of theatre criticism in present-day culture.


Chris Jones, the longtime theatre critic and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, is the director of the O'Neill's National Critics Institute (NCI). The 2014 edition of the National Critics Institute took place June 28-July 13 at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT.

Jones, one of the most prominent theatre critics in the U.S., also appears weekly on CBS-2 news in Chicago and on the Tribune's WGN Radio. Prior to joining the staff of the Tribune, Jones was a former writer at Variety. His bylines on arts criticism have also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and American Theatre Magazine, among others. Jones has served on the drama committee for the Pulitzer Prize twice.

Jones' Chicago Tribune Biography pages include the following statements:

"Jones spent 10 years teaching at Northern Illinois University, where he served as both an associate professor and as assistant chair of the School of Theatre and Dance. He also served as associate dean of DePaul University's Theatre School, where he continues to be an adjunct professor. His honors include the Gold Medallion from the American College Theatre Festival, for his work with young theater critics. A native of Manchester, England, Jones earned a doctorate from the Ohio State University in 1989. He lives in Evanston with his wife Gillian Darlow and their two young boys, Peter and Evan."

Playbill.com conducted an interview with Jones via email to discuss the O'Neill National Critics Institute and theatre criticism.

What drew you to theatre criticism? And who are your influences?
Chris Jones: I was drawn by my love of theater and of journalism. I also like writing the first draft of the record, so to speak. There is something about reporting on what you saw, right after you saw it, long before history decides whether you were right or wrong and about the significance of the event. I also like opening nights (or press nights). There is a real energy and vitality in the theater — however good or bad the show — and I kind of like that being my workplace as it were. I also love losing myself every night in storytelling.


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