Once again things started off steadily and sensibly, but then too much interesting sounding stuff (both in & out of London) came up and ended up taking over my diary… I may have again gone down in terms of the amount of shows I’ve seen in six months (103 different shows, 126 individual visits to theatres), but I think I’ve probably done better in terms of the ‘other’ column. Thanks to a newfound interest in the big screen (and reduced price tickets in my work perks scheme) I’ve managed to see quite a few films, as well as go to more gigs & various talks – I’ve totted up 33 miscellaneous events, so 159 in total. Not bad for half a year!
Like many bloggers and unpaid writers, I find myself almost constantly having to consider just how much I take on; unfortunately my day job became very stressful recently (and I mean that entirely seriously), causing me to cancel a review and reconsider what I actually wanted to achieve this year.
As grateful as I am for the opportunities that come my way, I’m finding the admin side of things increasingly tiresome as it’s reminding me far too much of the kind of thing I spend most of my working day doing. Receiving last-minute invites (most not even acknowledging this fact) has become a big peeve, as it suggests that unpaid critics are just sitting around with lots of time on their hands and not as in demand as those who are paid. The issue of duplicate emails is also up there; I can’t always reply straightaway, for one thing, and if your email doesn’t ask directly for a reply then I’m more likely to ignore it if I can’t make it – e.g. saying something like “get in touch if you’d like tickets” to me suggests only positive responses are required. The more this kind of thing makes this all feel like a chore, the more disengaged I become. And I know I speak for many others in this.
With all this in mind, I’m continuing to do my best to decrease the pressure I put on myself – I began with reducing my #NeverMindTheBlog output, and have largely stuck to my aim of no more than three reviews per week (& non-consecutive where possible), but I do need to try and take that further now. Other than pre-arranged shows – and, of course, Edinburgh – I’m going to try and take this down to one or two reviews per week, keeping weekends free more often, and leaving myself time to write about shows I’ve paid to see (should the urge take me). I want to study again, and maybe even go on a holiday that’s not centred around theatre… (Shock, horror!) But I also don’t want to lose this outlet, especially as a few fellow bloggers have decided to stop in the years I’ve been going – and getting a paid position seems ever more unlikely.
Places to go
Safe to say I’ve got about a bit this year… Thanks largely to Wise Children, I’ve had multiple trips across the country each month! Bristol, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, York, Chester, Coventry, Norwich, Newbury, Bath, Salisbury & Brighton have all been ticked off at one point or other. And I even started my year with a trip to Paris to preview Notre Dame de Paris!
I already have a few other plans in place, such as a jaunt to York to round off next week’s #MindTheBard challenge week, of course a return to Bristol for Wise Children’s next venture (a production of Malory Towers), Private Lives at The Mill at Sonning, Edinburgh Festival Fringe (shows tbc), hopefully Macbeth at Chichester, Tim Minchin in Cardiff, and We Will Rock You somewhere on its UK tour. I don’t think I can make it to every venue on the Malory Towers tour due to a combination of inaccessibility & bad timing, but obviously if I love it then I will be popping to as many places as possible in pursuit…
Shows to see
I’ve done pretty well with the list of shows I mentioned at the start of the year that I wanted to see, ticking off Come From Away, Amélie, Leave to Remain, Dead Dog in a Suitcase, The Worst Witch, and the first few summer Globe productions. I was also quite pleased about managing to see Bitter Wheat without having to line anyone’s pockets (spoiler alert: it’s boring and bad).
Currently what I’m most looking forward to are:
- Present Laughter & Lungs, Old Vic
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Regent’s Park Theatre & Bridge Theatre
- Fleabag, Wyndham’s Theatre
- Bartholomew Fair, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
- Falsettos, The Other Palace
- The Man in the White Suit, Wyndham’s Theatre
- Dear Evan Hansen, Noel Coward Theatre
- The Taming of the Shrew (RSC), Barbican
- UBU, Shoreditch Town Hall
I’m also getting to a few more of the Proms this year, including Prom 11: The Sound of a Summer (exploring the music & popular culture of 1969), as well as some more film in concert events at the Royal Albert Hall. I’m excited about Emma Rice’s take on Orpheus in the Underworld, so have obviously booked a trip to the Coliseum for that, and I’d definitely like to return to the Royal Opera House at some point – a ballet would be nice (if I can find a seat with more of a view), otherwise another opera sat in a similar position would do me just fine.
As ever, I need to see more stand-up comedy, and also want to keep up the semi-regular gig-going… Starting with The Who at Wembley this weekend isn’t bad (though I’m more excited about seeing Kaiser Chiefs earlier on in the day), and hopefully Stereophonics will be back on the road later this year as I definitely want to get back in the habit of seeing them perform live. Lots of films are on my ‘to see’ list as well, including Blinded by the Light, Judy and Star Wars: Episode IX (with many more to come, I’m sure).
Theatrical new year’s resolutions
As with this time last year, the resolutions haven’t been the easiest to fit in. I have returned to RADA – due to timings I could only see one of the graduate productions, but it was a good ‘un – and (as mentioned earlier) I’ve mostly stuck to the review limit each week. Maybe later in the year I’ll finally leave myself enough time to see The Book of Mormon, and perhaps find something to see in the remaining West End theatres (I think it’s just the Novello and the Lyric) other than what’s resident there.
In lieu of a monthly post, I’ve done the occasional #MissedTheBoat and reviewed five out of the six Arthur Miller plays that I’ve seen so far this year; I have plans for further #MissedTheBoat content, and different Miller-based posts, so I think that’s fair enough! I have my autumn/winter NMTB to come, as well as two more challenge weeks – and maybe something Christmassy, if I’m feeling in the mood this year…