Wednesday, February 18, 2015

... Getting Any Younger

You'll have to go somewhere else to read my Pals and A Midsummer Night's Dream reviews. 

Last September, I sat at conference table inside a glass building in London's King's Place. Sitting across from me was a blonde-haired woman, listening carefully and speaking excitably, as if hope was to be found at the turn of every sentence. Hope was the reason I was there. That woman was Lyn Gardner, theatre critic of The Guardian, and a personal hero.

I signed up for The Guardian masterclass in theatre criticism because I was feeling the need to re-energise my work, not only creatively but professionally. Somewhere along the way while writing on this blog, I had decided to give myself five years maximum to write voluntarily and unpaid before stepping back and reassessing my career path. Those five years will be up in October 2015.

Looking back at posts (some which I've been tempted to delete over the years), I can see a development from wheezy-voiced, shy college graduate to something possibly resembling a loud-speaking, hardball-playing and eye-trained critic. Despite this, the blog will only get me so far. It's still financially unsustainable and goes critically unrecognised.

In 2014, I made a goal for myself to get published in the printed press. From the many pitches I sent to editors, only a handful got responses, often lamenting their budget restrictions and disregarding theatre as a hard sell. I had been contributing to Irish Theatre Magazine until its suspension (and even wrote pro bono for them during the International Galway Arts Festival). While some newspaper critics are at the top of the field, their publications are limited in their ability to send reviewers travelling, to the detriment of many theatre artists unrecognised outside the cities. I'm convinced that the new model of Irish theatre criticism, one representative of theatre throughout Ireland, is going to be digital.

I was out of ideas until Gardner highlighted the distance between Ireland and the UK, not geographically but critically. We were talking about how Lippy had blown away critics in Edinburgh the previous month, and she asked me to consider how an Irish critic may lead the discussion on an Irish-grown work in the UK. In short, I began to think about how Irish theatre could be made relevant to English criticism.

While criticism in the UK is undergoing its own crisis of shrinking arts pages and laid-off critics, there's still plenty of innovators in the area, including Jake Orr. In 2009, Orr set up the website A Younger Theatre, a funded platform given to emerging writers with a scope for reviewing theatre throughout the UK, and now the Republic of Ireland.

I'm delighted to say that I will now be published once a week on A Younger Theatre. My review of Pals - The Irish at Gallipoli by ANU Productions is already up (link here), and I will be submitting my piece on the Abbey Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream later this week.

Meanwhile, I will still be publishing regularly here on Musings In Intermissions so stick around. But do check out the A Younger Theatre website for the rest of my reviews and features.

Thanks as always for reading.


1 comment:

  1. Delighted for you. And thank you so much for your persistence. If it wasn't for you the entire theatre program of Limerick City of Culture would only have received one review (that I know of). You really have gone far beyond what we have come to expect from the national press and all at your own cost. Thank you and well done!