top of page

Lynn Slotkin

"I will continue with fairness and objectivity. And I'll probably be as angry about the state of things. But we also live in hope."

Provided by Lynn

Joe Szekeres

At the bottom of her email correspondence, Lynn Slotkin concludes with: “Reviews for people serious about the theatre.”

That’s the first thing I remember about meeting her several years ago at a Theatre Ontario workshop, ‘Writing Reviews that Matter,’ which she moderated.

One thing is sure—from reading her articles, she is serious about the theatre, and her passion for the industry is undeniable. She cares deeply about it and wants people to attend. That passion remains prominent even in her periodic rants on her ‘Slotkin Letter’ website.

I respect those rants. Highly.

Let’s stop and think about what it means to be passionate.

In my 33-year career, I held tremendous zeal for education in Ontario, specifically Catholic education, as Lynn does for the theatre. I’m retired now, but when my school board employed me, I wanted kids to succeed and reach their full potential. I never wanted anyone to be unsuccessful. As a Catholic educator, I wanted my preparatory work behind the scenes to be top-notch because it was worth it for kids and parents.

Accountability and standards were part of my daily work ethic. I held myself and others to these markers for success in and outside the classroom.

Lynn is just as fervent about how theatre can influence people to their full potential. She also believes in that same ethic of accountability and holds the industry to standards onstage and offstage. I cared about the Ontario education system, and I still do even after retirement. Lynn cares about the theatre and still does, even after an illustrious 35-year+ career. Not everyone had to agree with me when I was a teacher, and not everyone has to agree with Lynn’s review of a production.

When I taught, I was allowed to voice my opinion openly regarding education for young people. Some tried to silence me, but I wouldn’t allow them, nor would my federation. I was a professional and sought to be treated as one without a question. Lynn, too, is a highly respected professional in the industry. I’ve heard her give talks and continue to read her articles. She has and must continue to voice her opinion freely about the theatre. That’s the way it works in a free society. There’s nothing wrong with adhering to standards, especially when this province's education and theatre industry costs big bucks to maintain and produce.

Now that I’m freelancing as an emerging theatre reviewer, I am learning about standards and accountability again. I believe there are more significant changes coming in the theatre industry. In a continued woke world, I’m doing my best to know what might be coming soon.

Lynn is someone who keeps herself aware of what might be coming soon.

She shares her thoughts in her writing and on her website.

So, I get where this observant ‘Passionate Playgoer,’ comes from in her rants.

We recently had an email check-in conversation. Three years have passed since our first chat. That link can be found at the bottom of this profile.

Three years ago, she saw her role as a theatre critic as telling the truth about evaluating an event in a fair-minded, respectful, and entertaining way so that the quality, flavour, story, artistry, and many other elements of a show are conveyed to readers and listeners.

She sees it even more now:

“As the decimated media becomes more pronounced and serious theatre coverage is also diminishing, I still think a robust, thoughtful, fair assessment of a piece of theatre is important. It informs the audience; it acts as a historical record of the play, what it looked like and the assessment of its intention and whether it was worth doing or successful as a piece of theatre.”

Slotkin raises a good point about the decimated media becoming more pronounced and the diminishing of serious theatre coverage. That’s the keyword here- serious. In the future, she believes we need more informed, educated, diverse voices writing about theatre with rigour, assessment, evaluation and fairness. And without an agenda.

She also offers some sage advice to theatre bloggers:

“As more and more bloggers offer varying opinions, also varying is the background and rigor of the blogger and the knowledge or lack thereof, of theatre and plays. A review without an assessment of the play’s successful and not successful aspects is not helpful to the art form, the audience or for the record.”

Lynn continued by stating that there are as many opinions of a theatrical event as people in the theatre watching it. The opinions are all valid, but they are not equal.

What does an audience member have to know then about opinions about being valid but not equal:

“A person has to evaluate whether or not they consider an opinion valid or not to see a show based on their own criteria. In my practice, I needed an education to take me deeper into the art form so that I could do that form justice when I wrote about it.”

Lynn has voiced two essential statements for all theatre lovers that have made me think. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions about a play. However, hopefully, any articles and reviews we read about the play will help the audience understand what makes a production successful. That’s where education comes in, perhaps through a discussion in an informative talkback immediately after a show or a written/oral review. I also know of a theatre company in my hometown that provides that kind of educational experience immediately following a performance.

Three years ago, Lynn thought theatre makers and heads might rethink what is important about art and how to create it and engage with their audience. According to her, this grand objective still has a long way to go. Statistics still indicate that audiences are NOT returning to the theatre after Covid. There have been reports of concern from the U.S., Canada, and the UK regarding the diminishing audience, lack of funding, and coverage of the art form in only three areas of concern.

It’s not just the high-ticket prices in Toronto that are of concern. Slotkin points out many theatres have Pay What You Can tickets. There are Arts Worker tickets and free tickets for people under a certain age. What she did say made me think again:

“It’s been noted that programming is the deterrent [why people are not returning].”


Lynn explained further that Crow’s and Coal Mine Theatre are two not-for-profit theatres doing something right by catering to their audiences with challenging fare. In the for-profit sector, Mirvish Productions offers fare that its audiences want to see, and the result is full houses. In these three examples, keeping track of the audience is easy.

She asks a good question that theatres may want to take into consideration:

“I wonder if anyone asked people not returning to the theatre WHY they aren’t returning. That might give a clue.”

As our email conversation began to wind down, I inquired about Lynn’s crystal ball gazing into the future to see where she believes the industry is headed in the next three to five years.

Crystal ball gazing is not her thing. No one looked into one and saw a pandemic coming in 2019. She said the pendulum that was ‘way over there’ with divisiveness and anger was swinging back quickly. It doesn’t matter what one perceives in three to five years as it will be different and maybe even the same.

And where does Lynn Slotkin, the observant, direct and point-blank theatre critic, see herself in that same three-to-five-year time period:

“The role is the same. I will continue to do it with fairness and objectivity. And I’ll probably be as angry about the state of things. But we also live in hope.”

Visit to read Lynn’s reviews and her varied rants or two.

To read the first check-in with Lynn, go here:

Abstract Building
Black on Transparent_edited.png
bottom of page