You can find a quick list of theatre news and reviews sites bringing up the rear of Subjectiviste‘s homepage. The handily alphabetised and region-tagged collection which follows is instead directed toward the community of more informal media (i.e. bloggers) who self-publish from backstage or front of house. It’s a credit to the openness of the net that these, unaided by (but also free of) commercial publishing concerns, have built reputations and audiences on nothing but their own voices. And so, before I O to the D on sincerity, a newer, humbler homemade venture salutes the following:
All Play All (UK) Reportage from playspaces beyond theatre by Tassos Stevens, one of the founders of Coney who also writes for BAC and generally faces forward, toward where art and technology splice genes, the filthy devils.
An Angry White Guy In Chicago (US) “A man is as big as the things that make him angry” said Winston Churchill of this blog – well, perhaps not, but it is there on the masthead, under which Don Hall barrels a flaming juggernaut through the American theatre establishment daily.
Blanche Marvin (UK) Humbling to see a fifty-year veteran of London and New York’s theatre scenes taking to the web like a swan with a matching iBook – the exhaustive reviews come with full cast details and are likeably unstuffy and practical.
British Theatre (UK) A social networking site for theatrefolk – the frontpage of which functions like a collective blog. Note that ‘social networking’ often equals ‘promoting’, but that just increases its similarity to any theatre bar – and can be genuinely useful in the same way.
Carousel of Fantasies (UK) Matt Trueman, owner of this particular virtual attraction, also writes for The Guardian, Time Out and Culture Wars, but adds informal reflections between reposts from those of equal quality.
Culture Wars (UK) is ‘the online review of the Institute of Ideas in London’ – and thoroughly fillets all manner of media, with theatre very much in the forefront. Reviews are agreeably steely, though always conscientious and consistently longer-form than print often allows.
Encore Theatre (UK) A site built by anonymous theatre workers after the pattern of a short-lived, polemical magazine of the same name, its acute editorial angle is even spelled-out with a punk-style love/hate letter. They ask only to be challenged.
Flux Theatre Ensemble (US) The American theatre community seems relatively well-served and surveyed by bloggers, and that this particular effort is multi-authored by an active theatre company makes for lively and pragmatic posts.
Forest Fringe (UK) Winners of Peter Brook’s Empty Space Award, bringers of microfestivals and owners of a blog which does the service of annotating their resistable (but desirable) rise, relaying how the polite critical furore they’ve amassed looks from the inside.
Interval Drinks (UK) Natasha Tripney is a freelance journalist close-focused on one long, leisurely review after another. Posts are regular, opinions are assured, and there’s a nice feel for detail – observations feel ongoing rather than marshalled toward a pompous final thumb up or down.
London Theatre Blog (UK) Multi-blogging from the metropolitan area – adding interviews, picture sets and videos to the more usual reviews. Plugged in to the capital’s current, it’s cleanly professional-feeling, with a simple, flexible interface to sort through the content.
Looking For Astronauts (UK) One thing the BAC / Shunt axis has brought to drama-beyond-theatre is an understanding that engaging virtually supplements and frames realworld activity rather than replacing or detracting. Andy Field is associated crew, and his blog connects with an unashamedly direct and personal tone.
Michael Coveney (UK) Elegant yet informal diary-style column from London-based critic who meanders between matinees with eyes open and pen poised to capture content and context – plus their interplay. Also: the uncommon blog skill of keeping it snappy.
The Notional Theatre (UK) If this blog were an animal, it would have all four paws in the air since 2008, but the two year’s content up to demise deserves a look. Maybe if we all smother the thing with clicks and hits, the anonymous author will return from the digital hereafter..? Let’s hope.
Not Writing but Blogging (UK) Stella Duffy’s alternative to productivity often touches on theatre, angles a mirror to her own life as a working writer and manages it without posturing, wallowing or ever wasting the visitor’s time.
On Theatre and Politics (US) Urbane, but bristling-with-linkage page of Brooklyn-based playwright Matthew Freeman. Another example of how some of the more progressive American theatre practitioners are looking to address the big problems – and even make the hard decisions – facing the artform in public.
Parabasis (US) A blog so prolific – with multiple posts most days – one is tempted to suspect Isaac Butler of being theatreland’s first cyborg. Whatever the metal/flesh ratio, his short punchy posts are always diverting – usually literally, courtesy of well-chosen links.
Pirate Dog (UK) Aleks Sierz, author of a extremely stimulating In Yer Face theatre companion, keeps his hand in with irregular, short but enduringly sharp posts. The best audiences are never those most easily pleased, and the valuable critics advance antitheses no theatre should ignore, if excellence and not acclaim is their goal.
Postcards from the Gods (UK) Another from the Culture Wars stable, Andrew Haydon posts reviews that sometimes attain the length of epic monologues and, thankfully, freed from print’s compression, he’s enough of a conversationalist to justify a long browse.
Scottish Theatre (UK) Edinburgh-based Mark Fisher is an energetic guide to Scottish theatre, reposting reviews, interviews and features previously published in assorted papers. A good one-stop blog to keep up with drama over the border.
Superfluities Redux (US) George Hunka writes both plays and criticism, but his blog is concerned mostly with theory – it’s not unlike peeking over a scholarly shoulder, and he deserves respect for sharing so generously his ongoing research (archives are likewise scrupulouly sorted to be user-friendlier).
Theatre Ideas (US) Most drama blogs act as bundles of reflections and refractions. That of Scott Walters, a college professor, is more concentrated from the off, with an agenda defined in his sidebar and a feeling all posts are informed by and geared toward it. A mite like watching a man endlessly, admirably wrestling a crocodile.
Theatre Notes (Australia) Melbourne’s widest-read theatre critic Alison Croggon maintains an exemplary web presence – as is only fitting for someone married to the theatre (well, OK, a playwright).
Theatre Voice (UK) Positioning itself uniquely by presenting much of its content in audio, which opens it up to unframed, realtime oral forms – debates, ambient interviews – cleverly, more closely shadowing the culture we’re here for (transcripts also available for convenience).
Third Angel (UK) One of our furthest forward-looking theatre companies don’t disappoint with their (ahem) ‘virtual presence’ – a regularly-updated blog which opens onto a swiiish home site whose attention to design and depth of archive sets a benchmark others should aspire to.
Thompson’s Bank of Communicable Desire (UK) Chris Goode is the slippery knot of British theatre blogging – lionised by his peers (most recently as The Guardian’s favourite in the form), his posts on theatre, politics and music pour down the page like cultured pub monologues with all the heart and humour that suggests.
View from the Stalls (UK) Another Scottish blog. That they’ve retitled comments ‘heckles’ (and still invite them) give an idea of the contributors’ open minds and big hearts: “…if you’re looking to see what enthusiastic theatregoers, with no ties to the industry, make of a show we’ll do our best to oblige.”
West End Whingers (UK) As a blog hook, the untrammelled grousing of a couple of ‘moaning curmudgeons’ is pretty irresistable, especially on this noble isle. Of course, they’re exaggerating for effect, and negativity is laced with humour, a chuckle for every grumble – but very palpable points are made along the way.