WHO ARE THE HANSLICK GIRLS?
The Hanslick Girls consist of three women who discuss art together: Gwen, Eleanor, and Dania. Although their opinions on what they want out of art may differ, their conversations always tend to make for an entertaining read. This website collects their conversations – about art, passion, life, and other buzzwords – and serve as a catalyst for discussing art, without needing to come to an agreement about its quality, message or impact. Their thoughts on the media they consume appear online every Monday at 1pm.
OKAY, BUT WHO REALLY ARE THE HANSLICK GIRLS?
The Hanslick Girls are a writing device created by theatre critic and director Zach Barr. By writing in the voices of three fictional characters, multiple perspectives on the same piece of art can be discussed within the context of the same review. The purpose is not always to determine whether or not a piece of art is “good” or “bad,” or even whether it succeeds. Rather, the Girls normalize disagreement when discussing art, since so much of our response to art is either subjective, emotional, or emotionally subjective. Zach’s perspective is in there, somewhere, divided among the opinions raised by the Girls. None of the three are a direct author surrogate. And not everything they say is Zach’s own opinion, either. It’s complicated. But just take them at their word and we should be fine.
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
You can read more about their backstory in Bios, but as a group, the first Hanslick Girls review, of A.J. Roy’s The Alligators, was published on February 16, 2015, by the online publication Scene+Heard, at Northwestern University. The Hanslick Girls remained a mainstay of the Northwestern theatre scene until June 2017, when they moved on to the greater Chicagoland area. Their full set of reviews published during their time at Northwestern is now included on this site (since a website crash for Scene+Heard took much of their original material offline).
WHY HANSLICK? IS THAT THEIR LAST NAME?
No, the Hanslick Girls are not sisters (although Gwen’s younger sister Hazel has appeared on occasion). The name of the group comes from Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904), a highly influential German music critic who helped to push music towards a modern future, while basically detesting Richard Wagner. Hanslick would often cite the opinions of his “friends” during his reviews, in order to bring alternate opinions into his reviews and round out his opinions. His 1854 treatise Von Musikalisch-Schönen (On The Musically Beautiful), was a step forward to argue that music could achieve a kind of transcendental beauty, which remained beautiful even when not observed.
The Hanslick Girls have set out to observe a little more of it.