“In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.” Pauline Kael

Pity the poor theatre critic. More often reviled than revered. Seen by some as an unqualified evil scourge inflicting him or her-self on innocent artists of unquestionably high principles and spreading base lies to bolster an inflated, insecure ego. Underappreciated and most often unpaid, why any arts journalist would repeatedly subject him or her-self to the trying ordeal of writing reviews is a wonder. Yet, here in the DFW region, a bevy of brave, determined wordsmiths settle into their reserved seats most weekends, pen and paper or laptop in hand, to view live theater and share their opinions in print, on line and across the airwaves.

This past Saturday eight such critics, members of the DFW Theatre Critics Forum, met at the home of Turtle Creek News reviewer Martha Heimberg to share potluck lunch and decide what accomplishments to highlight from the 2008-2009 theatre season.

African American Repertory Theatre

“My land is bare of chattering folk; the clouds are low along the ridges,

and sweet’s the air with curly smoke from all my burning bridges.”

Dorothy Parker

My first year to get included in the group, I wasn’t sure what I’d encounter: rancorous food-fights or nuanced, impassioned discussion of specific performances? Would I be an odd woman out with my favorite performances?  Au contraire. It was a delightful afternoon. What came across was how much everyone cares about the arts and artistic community. It was a lively discussion, peppered with laughter and enthusiastic camaraderie. Not everyone saw the same shows; not everyone felt the same about the shows they saw. There was a surprising amount of commonality of appreciation, from the old hands and us new faces on the reviewer scene alike. We expressed a lot of admiration for the hard work and artistic contributions made over the year.

So when you read Lawson Taitte’s article about the DFW Theatre Critics Forum meeting in the Dallas News, or read about it in The Voice or click on Theater Jones or my blog here, or wherever you find it, realize its results represent sincere analysis and respect for the performance arts scene.

If you’re not mentioned this time, maybe next year is your turn….

Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards, 2009

(shows that opened between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2009)

Jac Alder: Lost in the Stars, Theatre Three

Robin Armstrong: Incorruptible, Circle Theatre and Vincent River, Theatre Britain

B.J. Cleveland: The House of Blue Leaves, Theatre Arlington

Ellen Locy and Pam Myers-Morgan: The Nibroc Trilogy, Echo Theatre

Doug Miller: Click Clack Moo, Dallas Children’s Theater

Rene Moreno: The Seafarer, Stage West and This Is Our Youth, Upstart Productions

Katherine Owens: The Black Monk, Undermain Theatre

Ed Smith: The Bluest Eye, Jubilee Theatre

Jonathan Taylor and Christina Vela: The Pillowman, Kitchen Dog Theater

T.J. Walsh: Defiance, Theatre Three and Twelfth Night, Trinity Shakespeare Festival

Death! The Musical by Scott Eckert, Pocket Sandwich Theatre
The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson, Dallas Theater Center
Hello Human Female by Matt Lyle, Audacity Theatre Lab
Under a Texaco Canopy by Ellsworth Schave, One Thirty Productions

Jonathan Brooks: The Black Monk, Undermain Theatre
David Coffee: Twelfth Night, Trinity Shakespeare Festival
Michael Federico: Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes, Kitchen Dog Theater
Vince McGill: A Raisin in the Sun, A Soldier’s Play and Seven Guitars, African American Repertory Theater
Jerry Russell: The Seafarer, Stage West; On Golden Pond, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
Lee Trull: The Pillowman, Kitchen Dog Theater
Drew Wall: Defiance, Theatre Three; A Skull in Connemara, Second Thought Theatre; This Is Our Youth, Upstart Productions
Ted Wold: The House of Blue Leaves, Theatre Arlington

Sue Birch: Vincent River, Theatre Britain
Diane Casey Box-Worman: Defiance, Theatre Three; The Goat, Kitchen Dog Theater
Catherine DuBord: Some Girl(s), Second Thought Theatre
Emily Gray: The Norman Conquests, Stage West; Romeo and Juliet, Trinity Shakespeare Festival; Seagulls, WingSpan Theatre Company
Julie Johnson: Always…Patsy Cline, Casa Manana
Regina Washington: Neat, African American Repertory Theater
Wendy Welch: The Light in the Piazza, Theatre Three
Kimberly Whalen: The Light in the Piazza, Theatre Three; West Side Story, Lyric Stage
As Thousands Cheer, Lyric Stage
The Nibroc Trilogy, Echo Theatre
Topdog/Underdog, Upstart Productions
A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant, Circle Theatre


John Arnone: scenic design, The Black Monk, Undermain Theatre
Bruce R. Coleman: costume design, Trysts in Toledo, Theatre Three

Terry Dobson and Vonda Bowling: Music direction, Lost in the Stars, Theatre Three

Bruce DuBose: music and sound design, The Black Monk, Undermain Theatre

Cameron Cobb: violence and gore design, Titus Andronicus, Kitchen Dog Theater

John S. Davies: makeup design, The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

Design team: Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, Trinity Shakespeare Festival

Matthew Posey: Puppetry design, The Coppertone Trilogy, Balanced Almond

John de los Santos: choreography, Altar Boyz, Uptown Players

Aaron Patrick Turner: costume design, The Neverending Story, Dallas Children’s Theater

Jeffrey Schmidt: Production designs, The Old Woman in the Wood, The Drama Club

A Chorus Line, Dallas Summer Musicals
The Play About the Coach, Rocketship Productions at the Out of the Loop Festival
Rent, Dallas Summer Musicals


1) B.J. Cleveland, for his outstanding achievement during his 27-year association with Theatre Arlington (15 as artistic director), and for his unstoppable energy.

2) Irma P. Hall, co-founder of the African American Repertory Theater, for her lifetime contribution to North Texas and national performance art.

3) Kevin Moriarty, artistic director of the Dallas Theater Center, for reintroducing a resident acting ensemble to the DTC, and for his generous spirit of community building.

Participating Critics:

Joan Arbery: D Magazine and Renegade Bus

Alexandra Bonifield: Critical Rant & Rave, Dallas Examiner, Renegade Bus, THE Magazine

Martha Heimberg: Turtle Creek News

Arnold Wayne Jones: Dallas Voice

Elaine Liner: Dallas Observer and TheaterJones

Mark Lowry: TheaterJones and THE Magazine

Punch Shaw: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Lawson Taitte: Dallas Morning News

Joy Tipping: Dallas Morning News

PHOTO: African American Repertory Theater’s A Raisin in the Sun, directed by William “Bill” Earl Ray

2 thoughts on “2008-2009 DFW THEATRE CRITICS FORUM AWARDS

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