Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (external link) 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. From the Critical Response Process Overview published on Dance Exchange.
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.
- 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 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
- Statements of Meaning: Responders state what was meaningful, evocative, interesting, exciting, striking in the work they have just witnessed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.