Today Alexander Bar, Cafe and Theatre is adding a new platform: Back Row Writing. It’s a new section of the Telegraph where we publish the opinions and views of theatre lovers. Some of them are in the industry, some are friends, some are audience members, all have ideas they want to share.
This will include reviews of shows at our own venue and at others. I’ll address the ethical implications shortly, but first I want to explain why we feel the need to take this step: Arts writing in this city is out of step with the needs of independent theatre. Despite the ease of access to social media and the simplicity of creating a blog there are fewer people doing online reviews of theatre, and those that do are sporadic. The problem is that few can make this more than a hobby – and why should they? Love of theatre?
Theatre is not a solitary experience, it’s about connection and a large part of that is sharing it. Theatre needs to be talked about to be relevant. It needs to be shared to be sustainable. So we are making a place where voices can be heard. (If you are interested in writing about theatre then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Posting reviews does come with ethical baggage, both for our own shows and for shows at what could be labelled, ‘our competing theatres’. So up front: we’re not paying for positive reviews, we’re not posting negative reviews, our goal is to have opinions that enrich and contextualise the conversations around theatre in Cape Town. What it boils down to is that we’re going to try to be open and we’re going to try to be good for theatre and theatre lovers, whether audience or actor.