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In the UK and US, bias infects theatre reviews

In Broadway, London theatre, Native, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Reviews by Howard ShermanLeave a Comment

In his Theatre Addicts diary this week, Mates co-founder Mark Shenton took umbrage with The Sunday Times’ critic Christopher Hart’s review of American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’ latest play The Motherf**ker With the Hat. Now American blogger Howard Sherman, who saw the play on Broadway, offers his analysis – and spots a wider trend… “You can’t draw sweet water from a foul …

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The Mates welcome criticism, especially of ourselves

In Features, London theatre, Native, News, Opinion, Quotes, Regional theatre by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Terri Paddock today responded to Megan Vaughan’s recent article in The Stage on MyTheatreMates’s “damaging business practices” – and here she explains why, however fallacious, she welcomes Megan’s harsh criticism. This is a full version of Terri’s piece – as well as links to the two articles for The Stage.






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FEATURED SHOW: Dogs of War at the Old Red Lion, Reviews are in!

In Features, London theatre, Native, Plays, Quotes, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Have you seen the raft of four-star reviews for our Featured Show? The world premiere of Dogs of War, which is now running at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre, has also been nominated for three OffWestEnd.com Awards, including Most Promising New Playwright for author Tim Foley.  Scroll down for links and excerpts from some of our favourite reviews. “First we had one, …

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#AlsoRecognised winner Christina Bianco: From Best Ensemble to Best Solo?

In Awards, Cabaret, Edinburgh Festival, London theatre, Musicals, Native, News, Regional theatre, Video by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

The Forbidden Broadway actors, winners of the inaugural #AlsoRecognised Award for Best Ensemble Performance, are gifts that keep on giving. First we had Damian Humbley‘s multiple #certificateselfies, including the famous Superman semi-nude one (steady, ladies … and lads). Then Anna-Jane Casey sent us her naked #certificateselfie …. and then we got a pair of them from Christina Bianco, such a …

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All the 2015 #AlsoRecognised Winners Announced!

In Awards, London theatre, Musical direction, Musicals, Native, News, Plays by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

The full list of winners are announced today in the inaugural Also Recognised Awards, the new audience-voted, industry accolade set up by us My Theatre Mates co-founders Mark Shenton and Terri Paddock to celebrate lesser-known but equally worthy talent in fields overlooked by other awards bodies. Over a month’s voting, more than 15,000 people took part. How cool is that?! One of …

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First-ever Award for Best Musical Direction goes to…

In Awards, London theatre, Musical direction, Musicals, Native, News by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Readers of Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye may have spotted that the Mates gave the brilliant Baz a sneak peek at one of our winners in our inaugural Also Recognised Awards. We’re so proud of introducing the UK’s first-ever Award for Best Musical Direction – along with our partners and passionate campaigners, musical director Mike Dixon and Andrew Keates – that we couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. So, without further …

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VIDEO: Mike Dixon on Musical Direction and Creative Team Parity

In Features, Interviews, London theatre, Musical direction, Musicals, Native, Regional theatre, Video by Mike DixonLeave a Comment

A key part of the inaugural Also Recognised Awards is the introduction of the UK’s first-ever prize for Best Musical Direction. To launch this award, My Theatre Mates teamed up with musical director Mike Dixon and director Andrew Keates, who have been lobbying long and persuasively about the need for such an award and the importance of Creative Team Parity.

As part of our feature series designed to enlighten audiences on what musical direction is, Mark talked to Mike Dixon, one of the UK’s most experienced musical directors. In this in-depth interview, find out the answers to these and many other questions about the music in musicals:

  • What does a musical director and supervisor do?
  • Why have the Tony Awards stopped recognising Orchestration and Musical Direction?
  • How do you tell good versus bad musical direction?
  • How does your approach as a musical director change with different types of material?
  • Which is your favourite show you’ve worked on?
  • Why does the musical director stick around after the rest of the creative team have departed?
  • Does the musical director get involved in hiring the cast and orchestra?
  • Why shouldn’t live orchestras be replaced with recorded music?
  • What’s Symphonia? Why didn’t it work?
  • What are the challenges with amplification? Can you tell the difference?
  • Do musicians in the pit see the show they’re working on?
  • How do orchestra contracts differ from actors’ contracts?
  • What’s the job of the sound designer? How do they work with the musical director?
  • Where do you see the musical director in the theatrical hierarchy?
  • What’s the sitzprobe and why is it called that?
  • What’s it like performing in front of an audience for the first time?

 

Which show had the Best Musical Direction in 2014?

The Also Recognised Awards are the first UK theatre awards to give a prize for Musical Direction. The shortlists have been drawn up by the Mates, with Mike Dixon and Andrew Keates. Who will win? You're the judge. Voting closes at midnight on Sunday 19 April 2015.

VOTE NOW

 

Continuing our feature series educating audiences on the importance of musical directors, My Theatre Mates co-founder Mark Shenton interviews musical director and Also Recognised Awards partner Mike Dixon.

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How bad is gender inequality for female playwrights?

In Features, London theatre, Native, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre by Victoria SadlerLeave a Comment

Terri Paddock recently hosted a series of events alongside the play, The Father, at Trafalgar Studios. Included in these debates was one on whether enough is being done about gender inequality in theatre.

Though, sadly, I missed the discussion, I decided to collate my thoughts on how this impacts female playwrights, in particular, as it’s a subject that riles me enormously.

The platforming of female playwrights is, in some places, appalling and it continues to be a challenge across the board. We’ve all known this for a long time but, for me, the real nadir moment came when the National Theatre commissioned a play about feminism, Blurred Lines, and gave it to a man – Nick Payne – to write.

I mean, if women can’t even get commissioned to write a play about feminism, what hope is there?

When I saw Blurred Lines I was furious, my review on the Huffington Post leading to the NT press office to contact me. Well, they say you ain’t a proper critic till you’ve upset a press office so I guess you could say that was a coming-of-age for me personally. I don’t doubt Nick Payne’s talent but it angers me to this day that a play about feminism was given to a male playwright to write.

Alecky Blythe’s London Road at the National Theatre, Olivier Theatre. Photo: Mark Douet

Alecky Blythe’s London Road at the National Theatre, Olivier Theatre. Photo: Mark Douet

The National Theatre, of course, has previous when it comes to its preference for male playwrights, but it is not alone.

Last week, I sat down and went through the past productions list on the Old Vic website. In the past 10 years, the Old Vic has put on two plays written by women – TWO. Cloaca and Kiss Me, Kate. And that’s me being generous as Cloaca, written by Maria Goos, opened in 2004 – 11 years ago – and Kiss Me, Kate was co-written by Sam and Bella Spewack.

So actually I could conceivably claim that in the past 10 years, the Old Vic has not put on a single play written by a sole female playwright.

In all the #thankyouNick tweets that covered Twitter on Nick Hytner’s leaving the National, Alecky Blythe‘s London Road came up again and again as a highlight for many – a play that has now been adapted for the screen. As did Lucy Prebble’s The Effect, which won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

Another of Lucy’s plays, Enron, was a huge hit and won the 2009 TMA (Theatrical Management Association) Award for Best New Play.

Then there’s Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica, another critical hit, which walked off with the Evening Standard Award for Best Play. And the current holder of this year’s Verity Bargate award is a woman: Vicky Jones won it for her play, The One. Take a look at this year’s awards: we’ve got Jennifer Haley’s The Nether nominated for Best New Play at the Oliviers, Beth Steel won Most Promising Playwright at Evening Standard for Wonderland, an awards show that also saw The James Plays, written by Rona Munro, awarded Best Play.

The message is clear – if you give us the platform, we deliver.

So why aren’t female playwrights getting visibility? Can we reduce this to the simple thesis that theatre is a world dominated by men, and that men commission men? Well, no. It’s a lot more complex than that…

Terri Paddock recently hosted a series of events alongside the play, The Father, at Trafalgar Studios. Included in these debates was one on whether enough is being done about gender inequality in theatre. Though, sadly, I missed the discussion, I decided to collate my thoughts on how this impacts female playwrights, in particular, as it’s a subject that riles me …