Rant ! Call to Action ! Theatre needs you ;-)

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review tips

So what if three people in London don’t like your play.

Or your Art.

Or your dance.

Well it does matter if those 3 people are the key writers for the main newspaper theatre blogs and that is all anybody ever reads and then nobody comes to your show and the play that you’ve just spent a year writing and producing is not likely to go any further. I’ve been with a cast of a new company that got on star on their opening night from a national newspaper. It was an ambitious experimental work. They did what they were believing in. They had a 6 week run ahead of them that failed abysmally. Which is sad because there was quality in their work.

That is why I don’t think any art is bad or good. There will be somebody who appreciates it and of course there will be others who it leaves cold and it will not be for them but if the people who it leaves cold are the 3 major critics of London then your career is as much as over because that show that you may have invested 50,000 pounds (average for a 6 week costumed London Fringe run) in doing may be the one stab you’ve got of your whole career. There often isn’t the personal resources to play at that level again.

And of course it sticks with you but if after that one star review a few people in the audience who quite liked it a little bit or saw something that was valuable to them even if they gave it one star still explained why it was important to them, why they had sat through the whole thing then perhaps another person comes to see it and then another and it finds its audience.

Its incredibly sad for artists when their pieces of work are stopped from finding an audience and if you are a writer then it is beneficial to you to write an honest review of other shows.  And it’s not giving someone a leg up at your expense by saying oh this person is brilliant and therefore I am not, no; it’s widening the gap for more people to come to enjoy that art form.  And it may not be directly related to your work. It might be art and you might be a theatre writer well art connects to props and it connects to styles of delivery and it is important we keep expanding and realising not everybody has the same tastes.

Circus done in a morning presentation of a story of biblical proportions might be overstretching the genre for some and for others it might be an irony it might be triggering something that was really important that came back to their memory and gave them a lot of value.It’s horses for courses. And It’s just not a good way to move forward for any industry if a few people hold the opinions (Not to mention the key reviewers often belong to a similar social group ).

Yes there are more blogs being set up devoted to theatre reviews but there could be so many more because for every fringe show in London that opens with a handful of people in the audience one fledgling artistic company often doesn’t get chance to take the next level. And I, maybe like you, have often been the only person in an audience so if we don’t telegraph out what it was like that night then short run shows can close that night.  And even if nobody else comes to see it then you have put that show onto a record, it is kind of immortalised online. It’s there for other people to know about and that’s the great thing about being online – the reviews never die essentially which is good news for you if you are going to spend some time writing your review.

So that’s why it’s not important, not crucial it’s VITAL that people who have just walked out of a theatre show that have a reaction to it document it in some way because otherwise careers are being lost in fact particularly if you go against the review of the famous critics, it’s important to be heard. Let’s be honest history has shown they are not always right and yet they remain largely unchallenged. There is no right or wrong with art. There are just those with bigger mouthpieces. And this can skew the art that is being made and if you’re an artist or theatre lover that affects you. And if you look at the comments sections of some of the controversial reviews you can read the bitterness and sadness about it, it’s there and you can see it.

And at a time where there is so little arts funding, which always seems to be have been the case and even since the 70s people complained about the arts funding , reviews are a way of making the most or getting further with what we got and building an industry that is so rewarding. So if you’re a player of this industry then you owe it to yourself to build it forward. I just end this to say what are you going to do and I look forward to reading your review because it is the only way forward .

Don’t leave Artistic Careers Stranded!  For tips on writing a fast review there is a free cheat sheet here

More thoughts on stranded are here


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