Maura Judkis, TBD's theater reporter, was named a fellow of the NEA Institute in Theater and Musical Theater, the NEA announced last night.
But what is this thing? Chris Klimek, who writes about music for the Washington Post and about theater for Washington City Paper, was a fellow in 2009. He describes the program, which takes place in Los Angeles next month at USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, as a "weird, culty bonding experience" in which a bunch of arts writers across the country go through a sort of boot camp: They see shows every night and have to file reviews early the next morning. Then a team of critical muckety-mucks tears their work apart.
OK maybe it's not that terrifying, but it does sound intense.
Klimek cites having his work destroyed by critics like Ann Powers and Robert Christgau as a particular, if perverse, high point. "That was a privilege to get beaten up by the Dean," he says.
Klimek describes long days and longer nights. He became close friends with a number of fellow fellows, including NPR writer Glen Weldon. His advice to Judkis? "Be ready not to get a lot of sleep and not dismiss anything and turn down no invitation to go drinking, because that's where those relationships are solidified."
Judkis, a native of Pittsburgh and a George Washington University graduate who joined TBD prior to its August 2010 launch, has written for Washington City Paper, ARTnews, Express, and other publications. Before joining TBD, she wrote about environmental issues for U.S. News and World Report. At TBD, she's written extensively about severed heads, Victorian vibrators, and the National Portrait Gallery's adventures in censorship.