Congratulations to my dear friend David Finkle for being admitted to the New York Drama Critics Circle. I hired David as the chief critic of Theatermania.com years ago and his friendship, especially when so much of the rest of the pool of journalists covering the New York stage revealed themselves to be grotesque, fatuous, self-absorbed idiots, never wavered. David and I have enjoyed long lunches, dishy discussions and he has consistently been a superlative friend, not to mention one of the discreet, decent and fair individuals covering the drama. He is also one of the most profoundly learned, with a lifetime of theatergoing behind him (having even seen the Lunts in The Visit) and, I am sure, many years of theatergoing ahead of him, too.
As NYDCC president Adam Feldman noted on Time Out New York’s theater blog, quizzically named Upstaged, Finkle is the “first critic in the group’s history to have been accepted primarily for his online work.”
Upon ascending his post, Feldman also noted, he aimed to institute organizational changes, believing “professional critics for online news sources should be eligible for membership in the group, whose bylaws-which limit membership to critics at print publications-were drafted well before the advent of the Internet and were intended to emphasize the importance of the written word (as opposed to those spoken on radio or television), not to privilege printed words over ones that appear on our computers.”
Finkle’s admittance is thus a major step forward for the organization, which may style itself L’Académie fran√ßaise of the New York stage but more regularly appears musty-fusty as Voltaire’s tomb.
As the Clyde Fitch Report noted earlier this year, the organization is governed not so much by arcane rules but by a holier-than-thou infatuation with its own self-styled superiority. I’d have liked to join the group when I was, together with David Sheward, Back Stage’s first-string critic. In fact, I was directly encouraged to inquire about membership by Sheward, who was my boss then and a longtime NYDCC member. Feldman told me via email, however, that two critics from the same news source cannot belong to the New York Drama Critics Circle. Seemed fair enough at the time.
Nevertheless — and sincerely — congratulations, David! The NYDCC can only benefit by your presence and wisdom.
(Final note: I write this knowing full well that it’s politically incorrect. I stand no chance of admittance anyway and feel that I might as well place my cards — and more, my personal experience — on the table. Make of it anything you will.)