On Sunday (10 December 2017), MyTheatreMates welcomed 15 theatre bloggers to the inaugural #MatesMeetUp at the Union Theatre in Southwark, London. In the Union’s buzzing Over the Road cafe, overflowing with youth theatre participants and audiences at the matinee performance of Privates on Parade, our hot topics revolved around the trials and tribulations of blogging.
For those who made it through the snow – and ten others sent their apologies due to travel chaos – this festive event was a chance to sit together as a diverse group of theatre professionals, critics and authors, to share ideas, while discussing the challenges and rewards of being an independent theatre writer.
With bloggers travelling from as far away as Wales to attend, it was clear that the passion and enthusiasm for theatre took many forms, with extensive approaches to covering productions, ranging from those who cover hundreds of shows a year, so they can provide valuable coverage to smaller venues, to those specialising in musical theatre or new writing and Off-West End and regional shows.
Many of the challenges discussed centred around being able to cover all of the shows available as well as finding time to write about them with full-time jobs and other commitments, and the problematic and subjective nature of star ratings. A key issue for everyone around the table was in gaining recognition from theatres, PR companies and even audiences that theatre bloggers are experienced, valuable and, often, equally knowledgeable contributors to the wider conversations about stage practice and performance.
Over some mince pies, the group also exchanged ideas and tips, including good social media strategies, and discussed some of their favourite shows of the year – none of which they could entirely agree on! Before heading back out into the wintry darkness, there was general consensus that mixing some topic-based discussion groups with more social gatherings like this one, would continue the valuable and insightful conversations begun at the first-ever #MatesMeetUp.
We’d like to thank everyone who gave up their time to come along, share their thoughts and be part of this new collective. If you were unable to attend and want to get involved, do look out for future events by following @MyTheatreMates on Twitter and register your interest by emailing us!