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“A unique and moving piece of theatre… If there is a better coda to Bangs’s life and career—to what he wanted and needed, to what he sought and occasionally found—I can’t imagine it.” – The New Yorker
“Manic and riveting. . .this fire-edged turn is something to see.” – The LA Times
“An engrossing solo show…hyperkinetic and full throttle.” – The Boston Globe
“…makes the case that his journey, like that of any music fan in search of transcendence, can be a wonder too.” – Rolling Stone
“I loved the play…I immediately forgot about the Lester I knew…and was swept up. Something about the sound system made the records sound different, bigger, fuller, clearer, as if you were hearing the music from inside of it.” – Greil Marcus

Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen

Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen are two of the most powerful forces working in the American theater today. As activists, writers, actors and directors, they have amassed an extraordinary body of work over a shot period of time in theater, film and tv. In addition to their recent off-Broadway phenomenon AFTERMATH, they are authors of THE EXONERATED, a play based on interviews they conducted with over 40 wrongfully convicted death row inmates across the US. Their work has been nominated for five Ovation Awards and three NAACP Awards, winning the Ovation for Best World Premiere Play. With a score of new projects in the pipeline, this extraordinary team is only scratching the surface of their powers.


How To Be A Rock Critic
Based on the Writings of Lester Bangs
By Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen
Performed by Erik Jensen
Directed by Jessica Blank
Produced by Arktype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann
Scenic Design by Richard Hoover
Lighting Design by Lap Chi Chu
Sound Design by David Robbins
Dramaturgy by P. Carl

Gonzo journalist, America’s greatest rock critic and inventor of the word “punk,” legendary music writer Lester Bangs was an American icon. Outsized, manic, fucked-up and impossibly creative, Lester traveled with some of the most iconic musical figures of the 20th century- The Clash, Bob Marley, Lou Reed -peeling away the veneer between “star” and audience and revealing the “greats” as flawed and failing humans. He was at once irreligious and messianic about his hopes for the future, humanity in general, and music in particular. Music could save the world. At least that’s what you tell yourself when you start out. But when the ragged, rebel ethos of the seventies gave way to the corporate pop of the eighties, Lester lost the myth he’d built a life around, and died of a drug overdose in 1982. This solo play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen (award-winning writers of THE EXONERATED and AFTERMATH) adapts Lester’s own writing to chart the life, work and death of one of the 20th century’s most ground-breaking, risk-taking, pioneering voices.

Capacity: 100 – 750
Stage: Proscenium / Black Box
Personnel: Up to 5


How To Be A Rock Critic

July 6 – 30 | Steppenwolf Theater | Chicago, IL