Things reviewers hate

10 Jan

And so I continue to file my reports from the International Theatre Critics Conference in Anchorage, an event which has been exciting, thought provoking and entirely fictitious.

Paul Gilchrist ruins another photo

Paul Gilchrist ruins another photo

Here is a transcript of one of the most popular presentations.

Things Reviewers Hate (shared for the edification of theatre makers)

  1. Shows without programs. It doesn’t need to be printed. Electronic will do. It’s difficult enough to do this job without looking like an idiot. There’s so much to process in so little time. Please don’t make it harder.
  2. Not being thanked. Or even acknowledged. Most of us don’t get paid. And those that do are hardly rolling in it. Ok, if we break our part of the bargain and write a rant that slams you as utterly incompetent or truly evil, then perhaps a dignified silence is the best response. Or maybe you should just contact your solicitor. But, in all other cases, an email saying thanks wouldn’t go astray.
  3. Finding positive reviews have been buried. Once again, if we compare you to Hitler, fair enough. But if our only criticism was that, say, the sound design was a little loud, it’s frustrating to find our review is not mentioned on your newsletter or social networks. Ok, it sounds like we’re stalking you. But since most of us write on an electronic format we know how many people have read the review and where those readers come from. I want readers just like you want audiences. You scratch my back…….
  4. Aggression to negative reviews. Sometimes I won’t like what you’ve done and I’ll say it. I don’t expect you to be overjoyed, but it seems a bit rich if you then send death threats. You invited a critic, not your grandmother.
  5. Refusal to accept that we have an existence beyond your work. I have opinions. I have preoccupations. When I write, these are the things I’ll be drawn to. Don’t swallow the lie about critical honesty. I’m not saying I’m going to write anything that I feel to be untrue, but if I think the play is about, say, feminism and you don’t, please don’t complain that I’ve misunderstood. No two people see an art work the same way. And to demand they should is to make the whole dramatic form redundant.
  6. Terrible wine at opening night. Ok, this one’s a joke. A free drink is a free drink. But I would like to raise my glass to all theatre makers. You teach us to see. And you teach us to dream. Thank you.


I would like to thank the writer of this paper, but the critic wished to remain anonymous. (Which is a perfect segue to Things Theatre Makers Hate. Stay tuned.)

Veronica Kaye

2 Responses to “Things reviewers hate”

  1. lisathatcher January 11, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    I’d like to include “Name not on the door” in this list.
    This happened to me several times in 2013, and while sometimes the person at the door recognises me, usually it results in an awkward moment of desperate email searching for your conf email.
    Unpleasant start to a night all round.

    • veronicakaye January 13, 2014 at 1:37 am #

      Yes, Lisa, glad you mentioned that one. I was going to add it myself. I’ve had my share of very awkward moments as well!!!

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