On Tuesday, the New York Times newsroom got the word: The paper is looking for a new second-string theater critic, and Margo Jefferson is moving on to a new beat.
Jefferson’s legit tenure was as brief as it was unpopular in the theater community. She replaced Bruce Weber in December 2003 and went on to write a series of reviews most distinguished for their long, detailed plot outlines.
In an internal memo to the Times staff, cultural news editor Jon Landman announced his search to find another reviewer. “This move creates a vacancy for a theater critic, so consider that job posted,” Landman wrote.
Ben Brantley continues as chief critic. Over the past few weeks, Neil Genzlinger has written several theater reviews, covering Jefferson’s former beat of Off Broadway shows.
As for Jefferson’s new gig at the Times, Landman gave the news a chatty, nonchalant spin. “Margo’s beat will be the cutting edge, the avant-garde if you think it sounds cooler in French,” wrote the editor. “She’ll write about experimental art in all its forms, using all the critic’s tools: reviews, essays, even perhaps the occasional guide for the perplexed.”
Jefferson joined the Times in 1993, won a Pulitzer Prize and has written about various media over the years, Landman pointed out. “So if anyone can invent a new interdisciplinary critical beat, it’s Margo, and when she returns from a brief book leave in the fall she’ll give it a try,” he added.