Our Theatre Editor, Carla, is here to introduce her section of the magazine, which can range from reviews of student productions to reflections and analyses of theatre today and in the past. Contact Carla with any questions, ideas, or “asks” regarding theatre critique for us!
I’m thrilled to be introducing the theatre section of The Tribe for this academic year. Freshers’ week may be months away but there is already so much ahead to look forward to on the St Andrews stage(s). After finishing the year on a high with Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, Mermaids have already announced an exciting round-up for next semester, including classics such as The Bacchae mixed with more modern works like A Streetcar Named Desire. Just So will be staging Anything Goes and the rock opera Bare, having left us begging for more with their final production of Urinetown. I’m hopeful that we’ll see more incredible immersive shows from Wanton Theatre and Boxed In (the latter are currently in Brighton as part of their tour). And before all that, there’s the summer madness of the Edinburgh Fringe to enjoy (or survive)! Productions such as Pistorius and Atlas, which were well-received in St Andrews, are preparing to take on bigger, more diverse audiences. The festival presents the ultimate performance challenge and it is fantastic that so many students are ready to take it on.
In a time when we seem to live our lives ‘on call’, we need theatre more than ever. It’s a space where people sit down, shut up, and focus themselves on a single message. The darkened auditorium provides a much-needed break from a world that constantly demands we split our attention. Theatre itself acts as an interval from this multi-tasking. However, outside of the St Andrews bubble, wider discussions in the arts are proving that the stage is not without its problems. The sudden departure of Emma Rice as Artistic Director of The Globe exposed the kinds of bureaucratic difficulties that can hinder creativity. Budget cuts threaten regional theatre whilst high ticket prices in London are preventing drama from being accessible to everyone. Even arts journalism is under pressure. The Guardian were slammed for cutting Lyn Gardner’s blog and other popular newspapers including the New York Post have decided to discontinue theatre criticism. When finances in media are struggling, it seems that us thespians are first in the firing line.
Fortunately, this is not the case here in The Tribe. Last year, this section was one of the most active in the magazine. Despite being its editor, I can’t take credit for this. We have a spectacularly busy performing arts scene in St. Andrews – our very own East Coast West End. The aforementioned Mermaids stage weekly shows and Just So society perform twice a semester alongside occasional cabaret nights. On top of all this, there is Gilbert and Sullivan, Opera Society, Blind Mirth and Comedy Society to keep us entertained. Other groups such as German Society have also delved into theatre as a new way of showcasing their talents. With so much going on, my role is simply to keep up! We are blessed with having too much to write about rather than not enough.
For this reason, we need you! Reviewing is a fantastic chance to really reflect on a performance and think carefully about not just what you saw, but how successful it was. We find reviewers for events by posting sign-ups, meaning you can commit to as much or as little as you want. Reviewing appeals to so many different people and we have a wide range of writers on our team: both arts and science students, actors and non-actors. There is no profile of an ideal reviewer and literally anyone can give it a go. “Everyone’s a critic” as they say. However, if you’re sure that’s not your calling, we also need people to write preview interviews and opinion pieces.
If this opening monologue has persuaded you to get involved, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The stage is yours!
Carla van der Sluijs