Critical Response Process

Liz Lerman describes her Critical Response Process. Photo by John Borstel.

Liz Lerman describes her Critical Response Process. Photo by John Borstel.

“In supporting the creation of new work, we have found Liz’s Lerman’s Critical Response Process to be the best tool we’ve ever encountered in assisting individual artists at the most vulnerable stages of creation. The Process empowers artists and invests responders with real responsibility as audience members.”

— James C. Nicola, Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop

Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process is a widely-recognized method that nurtures the development of artistic works-in-progress through a four-step, facilitated dialogue between artists, peers, and audiences. In use for over 20 years, the Process has been embraced by artmakers, educators, and administrators at theater companies, dance departments, orchestras, museums and more. The Process has deepened dialogue between artists and audiences; it has enhanced learning between teachers and students. By extension it has proven valuable for all kinds of creative endeavors, work situations, and collaborative relationships within and beyond the arts, from kindergartens to corporations.

Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, a brief overview

THE ROLES

• The artist offers a work-in-progress for review and feels prepared to question that work in a dialogue with other people.
• One, a few, or many responders — committed to the artist’s intent to make excellent work — engage in the dialogue with the artist.
• The facilitator, initiates each step, keeps the process on track, and works to help the artist and responders use the process to frame useful questions and responses.

THE PROCESS

The Critical Response Process takes place after a presentation of artistic work. Work can be short or long, large or small, and at any stage in its development.

THE CORE STEPS
1. Statements of Meaning: Responders state what was meaningful, evocative, interesting, exciting, striking in the work they have just witnessed.

2. Artist as Questioner: The artist asks questions about the work. After each question, the responders answer. Responders may express opinions if they are in direct response to the question asked and do not contain suggestions for changes.

3. Neutral Questions: Responders ask neutral questions about the work. The artist responds. Questions are neutral when they do not have an opinion couched in them. For example, if you are discussing the lighting of a scene, “Why was it so dark?” is not a neutral question. “What ideas guided your choices about lighting?” is.

4. Opinion Time: Responders state opinions, subject to permission from the artist. The usual form is “I have an opinion about ______, would you like to hear it?” The artist has the option to say no.

TARGETED TRAINING & CONSULTATION

Trained Critical Response practitioners from the Dance Exchange can facilitate workshops in your community, campus, arts center, or business. These workshops offer trainings in the Process and consultation on the use of critique in your institution. Programs can be designed to last a few hours, a few days, or over an extended time period.

CRITICAL RESPONSE PROCESS: THE BOOK

We offer a 62-page book Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process: A method for getting useful feedback on anything you make, from dance to dessert by Liz Lerman and John Borstel. Clear text, illustrations, charts, and sample dialogues illuminate the principles of the Process.

Want to bring Critical Response Process to your institution? Contact John Borstel at borstelj@danceexchange.org. Order your copy of Critical Response Process on Amazon.com. International and bulk orders, contact Susan Goode at susang@danceexchange.org.

Critical Response Process