Sunday, 20 May 2012

Another blog about not blogging

A couple of weeks ago now the journalist Maddy Costa got in touch to say she'd like me to contribute to Dialogue, a new blog-cum-'interactive space' for people interested in performance and theatre to have a general chat about things.

Anyway, I think it's good idea in many ways (although I'm not really sure that there is quite the lack of communication going on between artists and writers that she suggests, and while I've probably got the wrong end of the stick it seems part of the impetus behind the whole project was Dialogue's blogger co-founder mithering about how he felt 'pressured' into doing rushed reviews of things). But I think in asking me Maddy was under the misapprehension that this blog was a theatre blog and that I was theatre blogger, which it isn't and I'm not... but why shouldn't it/I be, eh? I've told her I don't think I'll contribute to Dialogue for now as it seems a strange way to start theatre blogging, but I think I'm going to write one naval-gazing blog about why I don't blog and then maybe after that I'll try blogging a bit.

So about a month ago I was seeing a play in the Young Vic's Maria studio, which has unallocated seating but reserves a couple of plum spaces for critics. As I was reviewing I sat in one of them and promptly got asked if I could move by a member of staff, as they were 'reserved for critics'. Anyway, I actually did move, upon which point a fellow theatre critic (who I'd never actually spoken to before so I assumed didn't know who I was but must have recognised me from 'around') informed the staff member of her mistake, which led to a sort of excruciatingly polite Mexican stand off:

Her: Sir, I'm sorry about the mistake, I didn't realise, please come back to the seat.

Me: [enormous, Moonie-grade cheerful grin]. Oh no, I'm fine thanks!

Her: Please sir.

Me: No, no, I'm genuinely alright here.

Her: Please.

Me: Honestly, don't worry, I'm fine. Her: [looks at me with mixture of upset and hatred and walks off]

I suppose I mostly moved because I thought it was mildly amusing to do so and I've mostly told this story because I think it's a mildly amusing story, but still, there is a level on which I don't feel particularly 'entitled' to the seat, just because I guess my whole approach to this journalism lark has always been to view myself as an open minded representative of the arts fan on the street, rather than, you know, a professional theatre critic (I work 40 hours a week as a theatre JOURNALIST and only a relatively piffling two reviews a weeks as a CRITIC).

I think because I feel I slightly blundered into this job and because I have a more general arts journalism/English literature background than theatrical one then I don't see myself as an expert... and I suppose that's the thing that bothers me about the idea of blogging, that because of the nature of my day job it would be setting myself up as an expert. Which is a stupid thing to worry about for all sorts of reasons, and if I went on about it too much I'd be getting into disingenuously faux-humble territory, but anyway... I just want to write some fun things about theatre, for myself, and if people start to read it then I can deal with that when it happens, but for now I'm not going to worry about it too miuch. So, er, yeah.