It’s a sad state of affairs, here in Vancouver. Theatre reviewers are becoming extremely rare. In the past few months, the Globe and Mail let go their Vancouver theatre reviewer, and cut their Vancouver theatre section entirely. Jerry Wasserman was let go from the Province, and now Peter Birnie, reviewer for our other major daily, The Vancouver Sun, has broken his leg, and is out of commission.
So that leaves Colin Thomas at The Georgia Straight, Jo Ledingham at The Vancouver Courier, the team at the Westender, and… well, that’s it. In an effort to cover as much as possible, the papers that are left are doubling up reviews. But, because they still have the same amount of space, it means reviews will be shorter, and shared.
I recently discovered a company out of New York called The NY Neofuturists. They have a kick-ass website, and a great blog (they are currently the darling of Theatre folks on Twitter for their Tweet Plays series). They also have a page on Yelp.
As newspaper ink shrinks, and the internet blossoms, user-generated content becomes more and more plentiful, and, hopefully, important. So, here’s what I think: while I think traditional theatre reviewers are still really important, and thier opinion is useful, I also think it is useful to listen to our audience–the people who come to see our plays. So, the next time you produce a play, create a means for the audience to give you feedback. That might be encouraging them to post on your blog, your Facebook page, or getting yourself set up on Yelp. Let them know their opinion matters. And who knows, you might even learn something!