Alison Croggon is one of Australia’s most prominent and respected performance arts critics. She was named the 2009 Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year and the Guardian cited her as a “must-read” critic, along with luminaries such as Pauline Kael, Susan Sontag and James Wood.
Her books of collected essays, Remembered Presences, was published in 2018 by Currency Press, and an essay on performance criticism, Criticism, Performance and the Need for Conversation, was published as a Platform Paper in 2019.
She has written reviews and essays for many newspapers and literary magazines, including The Monthly, The Saturday Paper, The Guardian, ABC Radio National, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, the Age and Agenda, including three years of a regular column for Overland Literary Journal. From 2004-12 she kept the influential theatre review blog Theatre Notes. She was Melbourne theatre critic for the national daily newspaper The Australian 2005-2008 and Melbourne critic for the national weekly news magazine The Bulletin from 1989-1992.
In 2020 Alison was appointed arts editor of The Saturday Paper. She co-founded and edited the performance criticism website Witness Performance with Robert Reid (2017-2021). She was review editor at Meanjin literary journal from 2019-2020.
‘There is no question that Croggon is among the best critics this country has produced, and there is not a review here that doesn’t attest to her precision of thought and expression.’ – Australian Book Review
Responses to theatre
Alison Croggon was the first online critic to be awarded the Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year, in 2009. Her blog Theatre Notes was the first theatre blog in Australia and, over its eight years of existence, made Croggon the most influential critical voice in Australian performance, with a wide international readership.
This long-awaited collection of 25 years of Croggon’s writing shows why. Ranging from early reviews to wide-focus essays of cultural criticism, from playful meditations on the critical form to searching interrogations of the role of the critic in the volatile digital age, Theatre Notes demonstrates the evolution of a crucial critical voice. It includes the best of the essays and reviews published in a variety of daily papers and literary magazines, but at its centre is an eye witness account of the 2004-2012 Australian theatre renaissance, written as it occurred. Searching, challenging and always entertaining, Croggon grapples with the contradictions and delights of writing about performance, an ephemeral artform central to our cultural memory.
criticism, performance and the need for conversation
In this paper Alison Croggon, one of Australia’s most insightful cultural critics, looks back from the days when the daily broadsheet newspapers were unrivalled in authority, to the collapse of the print media and opening of a free market for digital public opinion. Croggon sees the demise of the old criticism as a loss of power and received wisdom but also an opportunity to engage artists, critics and audiences in conversations of global collaboration and reference. With this breakdown of institutional criticism came the opportunity rethink our assumptions about what critical responses to art might be. It has offered a chance to open the door to new ways of thinking, a way of enriching both the communities around art and the process of making art itself.