47th Annual National Critics Institute Kicks Off at the O'Neill Center With Chris Jones, Michael Riedel, Linda Winer and More

47th Annual National Critics Institute Kicks Off at the O'Neill Center With Chris Jones, Michael Riedel, Linda Winer and More

With new leadership, extensive new financial support from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and a curriculum retooled to reflect the new realities of arts journalism, the Eugene O'Neill Center's venerable National Critics Institute (NCI) is underway for its 47th summer.

The only major national workshop for arts critics in the country, the National Critics Institute (NCI) is directed by Chris Jones, chief theater critic and Sunday arts-and-culture columnist of the Chicago Tribune. Jones has assembled a "who's-who" of arts journalism to serve as visiting faculty, including Peter Marks of the Washington Post, Michael Riedel of the New York Post, William Grimes of the New York Times, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times, Linda Winer of Newsday, London-based critic Matt Wolf, and several others.

Jones capitalized the conference with a campus-wide talk back on Saturday, July 5 with Michael Riedel titled, "Necessary Evil, or the Devil Incarnate?" In addition to columnist duties for the New York Post, Riedel, a controversial figure in Broadway media, also co-hosts "Theater Talk".

With support from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, an expanded class of 14 Critic Fellows - many of whom have received major help with expenses - will study the writing of theater, movie, and restaurant reviews, as well as the role of narrative journalism, social-media dilemmas, and other changes in the field. Fellows journey to review shows at major New England theaters, seeing movies and eating meals in distinctive restaurants, all while honing their skills of critical analysis alongside the O'Neill's many other programs.

"Our new funding from the McCormick Foundation, a foundation with a long-standing commitment to the future of arts journalism has allowed us to do a good deal more this year," Jones said. "The Fellows will have been working with some of America's outstanding arts writers."

Mostly mid-career journalists, Critics Fellows represent a variety of media outlets, including American Theatre magazine, the Chicago Reader, D Magazine of Dallas, WFPL in Louisville, and many other publications across America.

For more information on the National Critics Institute, visit www.theoneill.org.

About the O'Neill: Founded in 1964, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014. It is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for American theater. In the bold tradition of its namesake Eugene O'Neill - four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature - the O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and to more than 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.

Recipient of a 2010 Tony Award for Regional Theatre and 1979 Tony Award for Theatrical Excellence, O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute (NTI). NTI offers intensive theater training programs for academic credit, including the brand-new National Music Theater Institute, the Moscow Art Theatre Semester (MATS), a semester of study abroad, and six-week Theatermakers Summer Intensive.

The O'Neill owns and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. The childhood summer home of Eugene O'Neill, the Cottage is a National Historic Landmark.

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