I know that feeling.
You laugh at the wrong line in a movie, you don’t understand the ‘in’ joke or get sad watching comedians. It’s bad enough when it’s just you and your friends but when you’re in a room full of people you don’t know that’s tough!
When trying something new, people don’t like to be shown up to be different in public.
Of course. I know I don’t.
You are their guide. You are the one saying, you know what, I didn’t get the ending but I enjoyed watching it – and an honest luke warm review is no bad thing. Here’s why –
In every theatre there are good times to be had for cheap and in some cases for free; and every time a curtain goes up on an unfilled seat a chance to change someone’s perspective on life is lost.
The chance to even make someone smile for an hour or two is also gone.
Your Theatre needs you!
(Not in a WW2 way.)
But maybe in the way that your readers need to know a bit more about a show before buying a ticket and turning up kind of way.
Sometimes people just don’t know about where new venues are or when local outdoor events start. Fresh new voices reviewing things start new streams of possibility for everyone. Festivals, for example, are a great way to bring people to see brand new work in a safe environment and super way to test out your reviewing skills.
As more people join a tribe that speaks directly to them and follow your encouragement to try something for the first time your own audience grows.
We live in an unprecedented time when there are few barriers to putting on a show. Live video streaming has theatre companies performing live work across the nation. Arts is no longer exclusive and everything is possible. Amateur groups produce challenging contemporary work beyond the safe musicals they were known for. Students stage epic Greek dramas with casts of nearly 100 that a professional theatre could never find the budget to tour theatres with.
So now is the time to grasp that impulse you have when you feel so strongly about a piece of entertainment, like a TV show, Summer Festival, Circus Act, Street Busker, Indy Band that you have to tell people about it yesterday because it has ignited something in you.
The reason I share these tips is that I used to spend hours writing reviews. I have written over 200 so far. I do it because I love it and I have gotten quicker at it. I was a slow learner and got a system down so I want to share all the smooth techniques I have had to find when I saw an amazing show.
I saw ‘Remor’ at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012. It was 11 minutes long and performed in a box that only seated a handful of people. With the best will in the world the word of mouth was limited and I wasn’t sure how this amazing piece of installation theatre from Spain was going to reach the people it needed to. I got a review out on line that explained why it was essential viewing on the first day of the 3 week festival.
‘Remor’ is a fine show and went on to win accolades at the festival it completely deserved. I was happy to bring this to people’s attention on the first night of the fringe and received a massive peak in website traffic.
This might not happen everyday but when it does you will be ready to fly and cause a stir with your passion and a storm with your words.
So where will your reviews take your audience?
Personally I want more people in the theatre/open air auditorium/mall because that’s the good thing theatre now happens everywhere.
After all Rowena Cade built a theatre out of stone in a rural Cornish village and that is doing great business. A great place to watch Whales go by as you watch a play with a the Atlantic Coast as a back drop from your seat on a cliff top. Your words can be the reason someone experiences awesomeness for themselves.
That’s the impulse of your review inspiring your reader.
Hopefully getting people off the sofa and into the theatre is your thing. This is arguably more important than ever now we all need more community in our lives. Human connection is hard to find in our fast lives.
If that’s not something you feel.. this is not your book. Sorry.
Whatever your politics, wherever you stand on arts funding or mainstream comedy vs elite high tragedy one thing theatre folk tend to agree on is that community is a good thing. It makes us feel safe, that we belong, that we can grow together, that we can safely reveal who we are and be recognised for that.
Reviewing will make more things possible for you, your reader and the theatre and I’m all for that.
OK, so we knocked out a quick first review in the previous part (you didn’t? pop back and bang that one out!) and we posted it onto facebook to get our inner momentum going and to hear our inner writer speak.
Now let’s make the necessary hitting of deadlines much more smooth, satisfying and even joyful.
The one thing this book cannot do is edit your review, nor should it try because your writing is unique to you. Your review is 100% belonging to you and part of your soul. My hope is that there this is enough in these pages to make writing easy and enable you to succeed.
Let’s start the real deal.
Pick a show that speaks to you and call the box office. And speak to them. And there are great questions you can ask to get the first paragraph of your review done in seconds.
Turn the page and we’ll get the most out of that call together.