Osburn sees reviewing the arts as a performance in itself, “a literary response to an experience in the world. It may, and inevitably will, include analysis, reportage, and advice to both artists and consumers. But at its heart it is an act of writing, the transformance of experience into words.” By creating a strong critical persona, almost like a character in a play, he conveys what it feels like “to be in a particular spot at a particular event as a particular individual”: read more.
As author and editor of osburnt.com, he reviews theatrical, cinematic, musical, and other performances. Even before the site’s launch in 2015, his reviews on social media were widely shared and excerpted, including in reprint by Theatre Scene. In 2017, he was a panelist, in his role as a theater critic, for Coffeehouse Chronicles #141 at La MaMa.
He wrote the liner essay to 10, a 2015 CD and 2016 vinyl of U.S. and Peruvian standards by the Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet, online notes for Sofía Tosello’s Lluvia fue, and press release copy for Chuño.
As an auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts for several years, he evaluated grant-funded theatrical events in both the city and the state.
Prior to living in New York, Osburn was Arts and Entertainment Editor and Dance Critic for the Knight-Ridder Daily Camera in Boulder (clip #1, clip #2, clip #3); Entertainment Editor and Critic for the Denver weekly Up the Creek (clip); Dance Columnist for Muse; Performing Arts Correspondent for ARTlines (clip); Drama Critic for KCFR-FM; and contributor to The Denver Post (clip); The Rocky Mountain News; and, nationally, The Nation (clip), High Performance (clip #1, clip #2), and Dance Critics Association News.
Among his activities in Colorado was directing a staged reading of selections from classic dramatic criticism, using local actors, at a Rocky Mountain Theatre Guild Seminar on Arts Journalism. The program, which was well received, illustrated his view that criticism is, in its own way, theatrical.
He first honed his literary skills and philosophy of reviewing as a student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he wrote for the Daily Utah Chronicle, the campus newspaper, and Expression, a local magazine.