Archive for the journalism Category

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Posted in arts council, funding, journalism on November 28, 2012 by danbaker83

Maria Miller has apparently declared war against the arts world.  The past couple of weeks have seen key figures in the arts come out and challenge the new Culture Secretary, and after initially putting the barriers up she has now come out fighting against allegations that she – and, by extension, the government – are abandoning the arts in a time of need.  With her Twitter dialogue with Mark Shenton and an editorial in the Evening Standard in recent days – following on from Charlotte Higgins blog for the Guardian accusing her of stonewalling the press and the arts community regarding how engaged she is – it appears Miller has finally decided to make her presence felt, with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey also writing to The Stage to defend government policy.  Maria Miller’s recent language has been confrontational and defensive – but are the arts community being fair by personally targeting her, or does her lack of engagement justify the broadsides?

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Falling Headlong – and how we can make theatre trailers work

Posted in digital, journalism, networking, new writing on April 30, 2012 by danbaker83

Headlong recently released the trailer for their upcoming season; a glitzy, sharp looking affair which is in many people’s eyes a piece of art in itself.  However, within all the fanfare regarding its high production values has been a sense that the trailer has been embraced as some type of cause celebré as far as theatre’s relationship with social media is concerned.  Is this fair on Headlong, and does this undermine what they are trying to achieve?

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Nurturing the blogging community (A response to Jake Orr)

Posted in artist development, blogging, journalism, producing on March 1, 2012 by danbaker83

A couple of weeks ago Jake Orr at A Younger Theatre asked why the UK theatre blogging community have fallen so silent – and referred to my own blog when pointing out the lack of consistency in posting.  It’s only fair that I offer up my own personal reasons for a lack of consistency – some of which I imagine also apply to other blog writers.

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‘Long Player’: A Response

Posted in artist development, blogging, journalism, producing on November 9, 2011 by danbaker83

Jane Scott’s recent entry on the Guardian Theatre Blog addresses so-called ‘long play’ theatre, and suggests that the very concept of such pieces is riddled with problems which can undermine their purpose. However, her entry seems to cover a multitude of diverse issues which are tenuously linked under this heading, and I feel strongly that further exploration of some key points is needed to flesh out the debate.

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The Audience Agenda

Posted in interactive work, journalism, new writing on August 22, 2011 by danbaker83

Although I’ve yet to trek north of the border myself, one of the apparent talking points of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe seems to be regarding Ontroerend Goed’s Audience, and its treatment of audience members as participants.  As divisive as the show is (Laura Barnett hated it; Philip Fisher implores you all to see it), this direct engagement with audiences reflects a growing trend in performance to do away with the fourth wall and to challenge audiences to become directly engaged in what is played out in front of them.

Stories emerging from Edinburgh tell of audience members shouting and swearing at the actor involved in the systematically bullying of a young girl singled out in the audience (genuine or plant? – there are conflicting stories), where the actions stir them from being passive and independent to becoming connected and supportive of their fellow patrons; even after being reminded of the ‘rules’ of being a theatre audience in the opening minutes of the piece, they have in fact been drawn into breaking them.  The methods are crude and justifiably perceived by many as unacceptable, but the perceived notion of what is acceptable behaviour for an audience has been subverted for the purpose of this performance.

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Beached – A PR Disaster

Posted in blogging, journalism, producing on August 2, 2011 by danbaker83

The recent furore over Opera North’s proposed cancellation of Lee Hall’s Beached – provoking allegations of homophobia against the local education authority – has now seemingly died down, with the show now set to go ahead after an uneasy truce has been called between all parties.  However, the way in which the story broke and developed sheds a great deal of light on how PR works within the arts.

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Blogging and previews (in response to Matt Trueman)

Posted in blogging, journalism, producing on February 11, 2011 by danbaker83

Matt Trueman’s Guardian blog regarding the etiquette of bloggers reviewing previews has proved to be incredibly provocative – both the original article and Twitter have been alive with responses from critics, bloggers, theatre makers and punters seemingly either agreeing with his views or suggesting he’s deposed Hosni Mubarak as Public Enemy Number One.

Both as a theatre maker and as a blogger who doesn’t write reviews, I have huge respect for those who do – and who spend their own hard-earned cash to see a show through choice and then let others know their opinions. ‘Opinions’ is a key word here when dealing with bloggers; by-and-large, bloggers aren’t driven by an agenda to serve a particular audience or readership like professional reviewers are – and I think this is where Matt’s choice of incendiary phrases such as “the cynical practice of reviewing previews” has led to people taking exception and focusing on the apparent divide between blogging and professional criticism. The bloggers I’ve met reviews shows because they love theatre, and enjoy analysing and commenting on what they watch; they’re not driven by a cynical motivation to get hits to their site and to trump professional critics. There are undoubtedly some out there who do want to be the first to break the stories about how good/bad a show is, but I’d say it’s their right to do so as they will be paying for the chance to see a show – not getting comps and canapés at the interval like the critics.

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