Lessons Learned

by Grace Lisandrelli

During regularly scheduled meetings called Plogger Bootcamps, teen ploggers learn of the latest occurrences at TDF, hone their writing skills, and exchange ideas about effective plogging. At the most recent Plogger Bootcamp, the ploggers had the pleasure of meeting with TDF Online Content Editor and fellow critic, Mark Blankenship. In initiating a discussion, Mark posed a simple question: Why did you want to become a plogger? Some said they wanted to broaden their theater repertoire, while others sought a medium in which to fuse their love of theater and writing.

One plogger’s answer in particular has remained with me since that meeting. This plogger relayed her experience as an artist and the sort of criticism she receives from her peers. A person would approach her drawing, for example, and negatively comment on the size of her subject’s sketched hand. When the plogger would ask the critic to elaborate on his or her criticism, the critic offered neither a detailed explanation nor a route by which to correct the problem. Many people, particularly critics, are quick to disparage but few can clearly articulate the reasons behind their critique.

Mark presented a method to avoid this pitfall in the form of three questions, which he uses as a framework for all his reviews:

  • What was the artist trying to accomplish? – Critics should look beyond the art’s exterior and search for the message being portrayed.
  • Did the artist accomplish his/her goal? – Once the art’s meaning has been deciphered, the critic should determine whether the artist has successfully communicated his/her message to the audience.
  • Was the subject matter worth exploring? – After answering the first two questions, the critic must question if the overall theme has any bearing on society.

I found these questions thought-provoking and capable of leading a critic to uncover multiple dimensions of a work of art. They will prove a useful tool as I write my next review.