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Theatre to the Point

Theatre #tothepoint for DC, MD & VA

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#tothepoint

Anonymous

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As local actors, directors and production staff, getting honest feedback for our work has been elusive. Family and friends are always positive and our theatre families offer unconditional support for our work.  We have found the vast majority of the reviews in our region to simply be an extension of our theatre family. As performers we wanted something else from reviews of our work. We wanted help to get better.

When we are not working in or on a production we want to see other people’s work. As a theatre goer how are we to discern, from the vast number of shows available, where we should spend our money when the scale used to rate a show starts at 4 out of 5? As a customer we wanted something else from a review. We wanted something better.

Through many post show conversations, listening to our fellow actors and directors and production team members, we found we were not alone in our desire for something different. The frustrations that we shared were shared by others too. We didn’t want to be the people to attempt something different; we wanted someone else to fill that void. We believe the majority of our peers want honest and constructive opinions but we knew it would be a jolt to some to see a change in the review culture of the region. We were concerned it could potentially adversely affect our ability to continue to work on and off the stage if we were the ones to address this.

By the end of 2016 we decided we couldn’t wait any longer.  We concluded, in the short term at least, the only way we could write the honest and constructive reviews we wanted to write, and continue to work with those who we were writing about, was to do so anonymously. We knew this could call into question the credibility and integrity of the reviews but trusted that the writing, over time, would dispel those concerns. The vast majority of the feedback we have received has been positive. We have received correspondence from multiple directors asking if we would come and review their future shows. These people want honest opinions and those who don’t or who are offended by the anonymity don’t have to read them.

They are, after all, just opinions.

Thank you for taking this journey with us, we genuinely want to improve our art and ensure the public sees the best our professional and community theatres have to offer.

Anonymous.

Time to get #tothepoint

Many theatre reviews in our region have lost their way. The close ties between the reviewers and performers, their websites and theatre advertising, have led to compromised write-ups of local productions that not only deceive theatre goers but breed a culture of mediocrity in our region. If our art is to improve then we must talk honestly and constructively. There is a vast amount of theatre being produced in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and the choice for the paying public is greater than ever – if every show is receiving four or five stars we are not only denying them an informed choice but actively pushing them towards poor value for money.

These reviews have become thinly veiled advertising, comprising of little more than an unnecessary synopsis of the plot broken up by a ‘participation trophy’ approach of praising everyone. This is often dressed up as not wanting to say anything negative, especially about a community theatre show, where the vast majority of those involved will be unpaid. Even this misguided morality is a lie. It comes down to money and egos. The websites want the relationships with the theatre groups and their advertising dollars and the reviewers want to be liked by their thespian friends and welcomed as minor celebrities when they arrive for a show. All of which seems innocent enough until you realize the point of a review is to guide people in the direction of quality theatre. The paying public are a complete afterthought.

Community theatre is a wonderful outlet for many people and those who volunteer their time on and off stage are to be commended. We believe with honest and constructive reviews we can help improve the quality of theatre in our region while giving meaningful recognition to those who deserve it. Whatever the status of the theatre, and those involved in the productions, it’s time to get #tothepoint.

Our reviews will feature a points score out of 100, check out our scoring section, and our unique value for money chart allows theatre goers to make an informed choice.

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