Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Let us turn our focus for today on one of those elements of theatre that is often talked about, loves to do the talking, but is rarely seen as part of the theatrical process. We're talking about the reviews and the reviewers who write them.

As artist we know all too well what it is like to fall short of our expectations or to have someone not understand our work. But worse yet is when someone does not like our work. The process of creation is a very personal thing and generally an artist will put large amounts of him or herself into the performance; you are really standing out there, naked (at least figuratively naked), asking the audience to "judge me." It's our own choice, obviously, but it still stings when we don't get the validation that we seek.

Imagine how it must feel to have that publicised for everyone to see.

Then again, imagine being on the other side of the curtain. You start off as a theatre lover getting to see all sorts of exciting new productions and ready to write nice things about good people. I have a friend who worked as a reviewer and tried very hard not to be "that guy" who writes unfair things about deserving productions. But it is very hard. Not all theatre is good. Not all theatre is even decent. And when you have to see the large number of shows that reviews do, I'm sure that they begin to blend together and you begin questioning why you are giving up your free time to go out and review shows (people are asking you to do this) and then all you get is flack because you didn't review them politely.

But we as theatre artists need these reviews. Starting with the idea that "any press is good press," this is a way our productions gain exposure to the public. Anyone can run advertisements and pass out fliers, but the audience want to know "if it's good." They want to know the production's value - will it be worth their money and the time it takes to go and see the play. Reviews help us get noticed; they help us stand out from the pack.

So today I want to take a moment to thank all of those people who go out and see our shows. They come with their open mind and share with us their opinion of their work. Thank you for your praise and your criticism alike.

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