Friday, November 12, 2010

Ethical Codes

"International Association of Theatre Critics

Code of Practice

Theatre is among the most interactive of the performing arts. As privileged spectators, theatre critics share with audiences and performers the same time and space, the same individual and collective stimuli, the same immediate and long-term experiences. As working theatre commentators, we seek in our individual ways to articulate these interactions as a frame for discussion and as a meaningful part of the interpretation and significance of theatrical performance. The International Association of Theatre Critics therefore urges its members worldwide to accept as an agreed starting point the core professional guidelines articulated in this document.


As writers and thinkers in the media and/or as scholars connected to various branches of academic discourse, theatre critics should always remain aware of normative professional practices, respect artistic and intellectual freedom, and should write in what they believe to be the best interests of the ideals of the art of theatre.


Theatre critics should recognize that their own imaginative experience and knowledge is often limited and should be open to new ideas, forms, styles and practice.


Theatre critics should speak truthfully and appropriately while respecting the personal dignity of the artists to whom they are responding.


Theatre critics should be open-minded and reveal (as appropriate) prejudices – both artistic and personal – as part of their work.


Theatre critics should have as one of their goals a desire to motivate discussion of the work.


Theatre critics should strive to come to the theatrical performance in their best physical and mental condition, and should remain alert throughout the performance.


Theatre critics should try to describe, analyze, and evaluate the work as precisely and specifically as possible, supporting their remarks with concrete examples.


Theatre critics should make every possible effort to avoid external pressures and controls, including personal favours and financial enticements.


Theatre critics should make every possible effort to avoid situations which are or which can be perceived to be conflicts of interest by declining to review any production with which they are personally connected or by serving on juries with which they are personally connected.


Theatre critics should not do anything that would bring into disrepute their profession or practice, their own integrity or that of the art of the theatre.

(IATC – draft February 2010)

The Canadian Theatre Critics Association is:

A non-profit organization founded in 1979 under the auspices of the Toronto Drama Bench and incorporated federally in 1981

A member of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC)) under the umbrella of UNESCO

Our members are professionals in the field of theatre criticism and arts journalism who:
Attend national and international theatre conferences, seminars and congresses as representatives of the CTCA

Serve on the executive of the CTCA and on theatre boards and associations in Canada and abroad

Serve on regional critics organizations

Publish extensively on Canadian and international theatre and drama.
Our Code of Ethics:
Critics' ethics are based on consideration for others, just as any code of civilized behaviour. The Canadian Theatre Critics Association accepts the premise that its members are dealing with contributions to the public by artists and technicians who have worked long and hard on their presentation. It is thus agreed that while such considerations must not inhibit the reviewer in any honest estimate, is does presume respect for the contributors' efforts. Membership in the CTCA offers no license to insult, ridicule or denigrate artists who are serious about their work.

It is expected that critics be as objective as possible to achieve a balanced review. Comments on past performances or remarks on physical attributes of performers are justified only when and if the critic can establish a direct relevance to the production under consideration for description, interpretation, analysis and estimate. The production seen should be the production reviewed.

The critic should, whenever possible, prepare in advance of a performance. This includes reading all program and advanced material provided by the producing group. Reading a new script before attending its performance is optional but advisable.

The critic should attend the entire performance reviewed. If a critic must leave a performance early because of a deadline, this should be mentioned in the review.

The critic should behave in an unobtrusive manner, causing no distraction to audience members and performers. Arrangements for suitable seating should be made privately with decorum.

The critic should give full consideration and attention to all elements of a production. The work of supporting players, designers, musicians, and technicians is important, as well as that of leading players, director and author.

The critic should not under any circumstances exploit his or her position."


  1. The critic should, whenever possible, prepare in advance of a performance. This includes reading all program and advanced material provided by the producing group. Reading a new script before attending its performance is optional but advisable.

    This one caught my attention. Really? This is listed under ethics? Huh.

  2. Yeah, me too. I would actually prefer the critic NOT read a new script before seeing it, as a new script changes so often in rehearsal. And it's always better to see a play then read it. At least for me.

    but minus that one quibble, I agree with ALL the others, and found the ones I underlined particularly interesting.

    And I think it's good for critics to have a code of ethics rather than none at all...


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