Writing a review – the Gathering 09 session

On the Friday morning Helen facilitated a workshop: Writing and reading feedback. We talked about reviews and what they can add to a performer’s journey. Or take away. We discussed what a review could be ‘for’ And who is currently creating reviews that are published for public viewing.

We then thought about writing critically about our own and others’ work. Where to begin?

Helen suggested starting with capturing on paper:

  • Details: title of the piece, who wrote, performed, acted, tecked it, choreographed etc, where it was and when.
  • The context: was I feeling expectant because of something I read ahead of time, uncertain, tired, not sure if I wanted to see yet another version of this? Was I squashed into a rickety seat, outside in light rain at dawn, too far away from the sound to hear properly? Who else was there, children, no one, lots of people who came late…?
  • The content: general consensus round this bit was “Don’t tell the tale”, don’t take the reader through the whole plot. We discussed that this can be a way of avoiding saying anything much else about the piece. But you can talk generally on “what is was about’ from your perspective.
  • The elements: the space, the lighting, the sound, set and costume. Did they help or hinder? Did they take over your attention or meld into the whole? How did they work for your experience?

Also, I think writing this, we need to think about what the review publication context is: student magazine? literary mag? this blog? local newspaper? Who are the readers?

So then we all had a go at writing a review. For example, Jess wrote about the inaugural inter-church Good Friday “Way of the Cross” pilgrimage to Newtown which she had attended just that morning. Adele wrote about the Rodwell Monologues and you can read that review on our Gathering blog.

We listened to some and talked about how a review could be seen as being your own story about going to a performance.

I am keen to use this blog space to keep thinking about this.