2022 BIPOC Critics Lab
Kennedy Center Theater Education is pleased to support the January 2022 BIPOC Critics Lab, developed and led by cultural critic Jose Solís. Jose has created an educational space for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) who haven't been welcomed into cultural criticism, whether due to systemic oppression, lack of opportunity, or because they didn’t know they were allowed to see themselves as critics. Following the tenets of dialogue, compassion, and nurturing one’s unique voice, future critics who attend will contribute to the creation of a custom program that fits their specific needs and encourages them to pursue the path of criticism that best serves them.
In the BIPOC Critics Lab, lifelines are encouraged over deadlines, and criticism is approached through a multimedia lens, in which podcasting, audiovisual techniques, and social media are as valuable as being skilled in written essays and traditional reviews. Critics conclude their lab experience with their first paid published piece and leave with practical knowledge, tools for decolonization, and a reminder that in order to honor the culture and artforms they’re covering, they must first honor their individual voices.
The program is divided into ten master classes over ten weeks, in which critics begin by defining “What My Criticism Will Be,” and finish by having their first paid piece published in a journalistic outlet or the materials of a partner theatre company. When working with a theatre company, future critics will not be reviewing the work, but offering their services through interviews, essays covering themes suggested by the company, listicles, original podcasts, or audiovisual creations.
Future critics are constantly reminded that the work of a critic is not to pass judgment and make recommendations, but rather to be the mediator between the art and the audience. Critics exist to open up dialogue, not to end it. Therefore, assignments will not require critics to spend their nights stressed about a deadline (lifelines > deadlines) and will be open to alternative, out of the box solutions. Although future critics are taught real-world strategies and encouraged to think in a creative way, during the BIPOC Critics Lab they will feel able and comfortable to play around and experiment. Aside from the last piece, completing assignments is encouraged but not obligatory.
The BIPOC Critics Lab takes place over Zoom, meeting every Sunday for ten weeks, beginning January 9.
The application asks for some basic information, and two uploads:
1. A resume listing your proudest moments (define this as you see fit!). We want to learn more about your background, heritage, taste, voice, sense of humor, and their worldview--as opposed to seeing a list of schools, jobs, and dates that reveal nothing about
your humanity, but merely how much time you spent somewhere.
2. An answer to the question, “What are my dreams for criticism in 2022?” The medium you choose to answer this question is up to you. Mediums may include, but are not limited to: written essays, musical compositions, collages, paintings, poems, short films, recipes, etc. There are no word limits, in fact, wordless submissions are welcome.
Application Deadline: Friday, December 3, 2021
Please contact Kelsey Mesa at KRMesa@kennedy-center.org with any questions.
Jose Solís began his career as a critic at age 16 when he launched a film review website while living in Honduras, where he was born. He began writing about theatre while attending college in Costa Rica, and upon moving to NYC in 2012 focused entirely on the stage. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, American Theatre, TDF Stages, The National Catholic Reporter, Encore Monthly, Backstage, Rotten Tomatoes, 3Views, and America Magazine. He is also the creator of Token Theatre Friends, a weekly web series/podcast where he talks to some of the most influential theatre artists working today.
In 2020 he was selected as the Floria Lasky Visiting Artist at Hunter College where he hosted the Wed@One series. The same year he started the BIPOC Critics Lab, a workshop he created meant to train the cultural critics of the future. The second installment of the Lab was hosted by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
He currently serves as one of three co-editors at 3Views and as the Critic Cohort Director at Did They Like It, a theatre reviews aggregator where he leads a cohort of five critics.
Jose discusses the BIPOC Critics Lab in American Theatre here.
Examples of Published Pieces by Lab alumni:
Start with Inviting BIPOC Critics
by Rosa Navarrete for Long Wharf Theatre
From the Streets of L.A. to the Digital Stage
By Kathlynn Alba for Centre Theatre Group
7 Shows About American Democracy to Keep You Occupied on Election Day (and the Days After)
By Gabe Lozada for Theatermania
angela ramos of the bipoc critics lab responds in parallel
By Angela Ramos for New Georges
Values Discussions — The Playwrights Realm
By Scheherazade Quiroga for The Playwrights Realm
With Exciting New Works, Three Bold Playwrights Make Their Case for Being Part of the Canon
By Toussaint Jeanlouis for Baltimore Center Stage
Operator, Please Connect Me with Theatre
By Alexi Chacón for Woolly Mammoth
Dos Gringas Hablando: Chatting with playwright Carmen Rivera on the 25th Anniversary of her play LA GRINGA.
By Ana Zambrana for Repertorio Español
Ep. 29: Carnival (Feat. Kwame Kwei-Armah) – Token Theatre Friends
By Brittani Samuel for Token Theatre Friends
Audio Chismógrafo, or How I Pinched the Brain of Victor I. Cazares
By Scheherazade Quiroga for New York Theatre Workshop
A Republic in Three Monologues (Part 2)
By Alexi Chacón for New York Theatre Workshop
The Power of Place at Ford's Theatre
By Rishi Mutalik for Ford’s Theatre
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I apply if I live outside of the United States? Yes! You are welcome to apply, but know that if you are accepted, all meetings are given in Eastern Time and we ask that you translate that time for yourself.
2. Can I apply if I am not a student? Yes! Any BIPOC individual 18 or older may apply.
3. Is there a fee to apply? No! This program is at no cost to participants.