National Critics Institute
Frequently Asked Questions
The application process is easy. Basically, you will be asked for a biographical sketch, to identify your strengths and challenges as a writer, for two samples of your writing, and one letter of endorsement, all done online. Please visit the Submission Info page for all details about applying.
We choose writers and journalists both who illustrate promise and who are mid career, looking to revitalize their perspectives and experience. We appreciate writers and thinkers who understand what they want to learn from the program, and/or have a profession that asks them to write critically, analytically. Do not shy away based on lack of experience. Our Critic Fellows share a few basic characteristics—they have a passion for critical writing, an affection for analytical thought, and a love of art forms.
The entire Institute—all mentors, instruction, theatre tickets, rooms, and food included—is only $2,000. This does not include your transportation to and from New London.
Yes, very good scholarships for qualified journalists, in many cases up to the full costs of the program.
You meet regularly with Chris Jones and a host of qualified mentors who will teach you the myriad skills of criticism—theatre, film, dance, and food. You write daily, and in round table, discuss each other’s writing in a collaborative, non-competitive atmosphere. You meet usually in the morning and afternoon, leaving time for lunch, dinner, and evening activities—from attending plays to critiquing dance—along with mentors who comment upon your material and lead exciting discussions of contemporary, critical topics.
You’ll see several plays and musicals in development at the O’Neill, and many from surrounding theatres such as Goodspeed, Ivoryton Playhouse, and Trinity Rep. Tickets are included in the tuition, as is the food at a variety of terrific restaurants you will review.
You will be living in new dormitories right on campus with air-conditioning and easy access to your workshops, the beautiful ocean nearby, your cafeteria, and many of the shows.
Yes, by all means. Bring a trustworthy computer, one that is mobile and reliable.
We serve sometimes hundreds of folks, but the Institute does its best to accommodate all dietary restrictions. It’s a cross between camp and dormitory food, but with decent selections, good variation, and healthy options.
We encourage you both to spend time at the local pub—where all of the summer institute participants gather nightly—and to share meals with folks who both run the institute and others who are visiting, from playwrights to directors, from producers to musical theatre artists. We also intersect with other institutes—Wendy Goldberg and the National Playwrights Conference; Paulette Haupt and the National Music Theater Conference; and Preston Whiteway, the Executive Director of the O’Neill. Past guests include Michael Douglas, Adam Rapp, Lee Blessing, and Sam Hunter.
Usually, we take off on a day and a half somewhere around the mid point, and dependent on our schedule to enjoy the area.
The plays we see at the O’Neill are readings, in process, and we use them as a jumping board for critical exploration. They are not reviewable. But the other plays that we see off campus offer potential, and possibly interviews and other topics that will be discussed in workshops.
You will be living directly on campus, but the O’Neill does offer rides into town for items you may need. Many Critic Fellows feel a car is helpful should they want to visit nearby towns on their day off or have frequent meals off campus. Know, however, that we often see shows and eat off campus, so a car is not necessary.
Yes, the address is c/o National Critics Institute, 305 Great Neck Road, Waterford, CT 06385
Yes, but limited. The O’Neill has very little reception. Verizon is best, but only in select areas.
You work hard and you learn much in an honest, critical, but supportive atmosphere coordinated by critic, author, and award winning-professor Dr. Jones. But no. We want you to enjoy the time in Connecticut. We encourage you to meet other artists, to go to the pub nightly, and to visit the beach regularly. There is time to write, but also time to interact with the fellow institute attendees.
If you have any further questions, please address them to Mark Charney, Associate Director of the Institute and Past Critic Fellow at firstname.lastname@example.org.