Up until this time last year, things were quite different. I was living in Germany as a waitress and feeling low. It wasn’t the language barrier, the tight financial situation or even being away from friends and family. It had dawned on me while living away from London that there was one thing that I missed above all. Theatre. Call me crazy, but I realised that theatre was an integral part of my life and I wasn’t the same without it. I’ve since returned home and made the decision to devote all my spare time to developing my theatre blog, My Fair Theatregoer. And what a crazy ride it’s been.
Now that this blog turns one year old, in this post I open up about: why I decided to re-brand it; the highs and lows of running this blog; and what I’d like to do with it next.
I See A (Re-)Brand New You
At the end of 2017, I had become quite frustrated with my job, so I took a risk and escaped to Germany. I had always had a bizarre feeling that I’d like to become a fluent in the language and even dared to think at the time that I could create a whole new life for myself overseas. I don’t regret the experience, but it was a combination of things that made me realise that London was in fact my home.
Last year I discovered and fell in love with Mark Kermode’s film reviews in his BBC Five Live radio show with Simon Mayo. If I wasn’t at work until the crazy hours of the morning, I would be plugged into my headphones and binge-listening to all the episodes available. I was in awe of Kermode’s breadth of knowledge and his skill in articulating his thoughts in a review. I aspired to become the next Kermode for theatre. But as I was not at all close to any shows, I would have to put that on hold.
Just like Princeton in Avenue Q, I had also been trying to ‘Find My Purpose’. I spent copious amounts of time on google looking for a career which better aligned with my passions. I knew that I loved theatre, but after browsing many websites I couldn’t find any roles that I thought matched my skill set.
I did however start to discover the weird and wonderful world of theatre blogging. I was surprised by the sheer number of bloggers who were devoted to writing reviews and some even received invites to high profile theatre press nights. I knew that this was it. I knew that this was something I could passionately see myself doing, perhaps not as a career but as a hobby where I’d be able to express my love of theatre. I also knew that the only way to do this was to be back in London and near the West End.
I then decided that rebranding my blog, which I had been writing on and off for four years, would be the first step.
Why did I decide on the name My Fair Theatregoer you may ask? You know, it’s like My Fair Lady, but My Fair Theatregoer. I struggled with a new name for days on end and honestly there were many alternative options that I could have quite easily gone with. This included “Listen to that Ragtime”, “Crazy without theatre”, “Lone Theatre Reporter” and “Ticket for one please”. I thought My Fair Theatregoer had a nice enough ring to it and I’m quite in love with the My Fair Lady score and it’s as simple as that.
Blow High, Blow Low, a Blogging We Will Go
I’ve learnt that blogging can be demanding, especially whilst trying to balance it with a full-time job. There’s always the pressure to upload more frequently, to attract more followers and to see all the latest shows. Sometimes it can feel hard to keep up.
I struggle most of all with the process of writing reviews. I’m usually pleased with the end result, but it can often feel like an up-hill climb to get there. Although it’s not about becoming the most popular blogger, it can sometimes feel disheartening after I’ve spent hours on drafting and ‘perfecting’ it that it hasn’t attracted any views. I tend to spend an average of two days on each piece and always push myself to capture exactly what I thought of a particular show. My frustration usually is that I haven’t captured my thoughts in the most engaging way and I can sometimes overcomplicate how to word a particular sentence. There are some impressively prolific reviewers who able to produce well-written reviews in no time at all and it’s something that I’m keen to get better at.
In terms of the highs, the greatest joy is that I’m finally doing something that I care deeply about. It’s the best feeling in the world once I’ve completed a review and a production uses a pull quote in their social media. I have seen such a variety of shows in the past year, particularly in Fringe venues, which have opened my eyes to how powerful theatre can be.
I’ve often felt like an outsider and a bit of a loner as I usually see shows on my own. But this is the first time that I’ve been able to connect with so many theatre folk online and started to feel like I belong. It’s great to discuss shows and the odd bit of theatre drama too. I’m also now a part of the Roundhouse’s Critics of Colour Collective and the 2019 Network of Independent Critics cohort who will be reviewing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. It’s been so great to have met many fascinating people from all walks of life who share the same passion for theatre as I do and I hope to continue to meet lots more.
What’s next for my Fair Theatregoer?
In future, I will of course continue to write reviews. But I would also like to focus on how I can use this blog to promote the work of others. There are so many inspirational theatre makers and artists out there who I’d like to celebrate. I’ll do this partly through developing my ‘Why We Tell The Story’ Interview series, but I’m also brainstorming how I can take this further.
I’d also like to do more opinion pieces which bring together current affairs and theatre. I’ve shied away from social commentary but I think considering the pivotal times that we’re living in with more upheaval and change every day, I’d like to explore why theatre is relevant to our society and to connect what I see in shows to the real life issues that we face.
So here’s to another year and many more to come!
Your Fair Theatregoer x