The UK now has a new independent online forum to discuss theatre – TheatreBoard. Following the recent decision by its American parent company to discontinue support for the discussion forums originally established by WhatsOnStage.com, a group of dedicated fans have taken on the challenge to create a brand new home for lively and informed discussion about the UK theatre scene and beyond.
Once the closure of the old forum was announced at the start of January, many users rapidly got involved suggesting ways forward. Different approaches were considered before the community as a whole put its support behind a plan to create a new home at www.theatreboard.co.uk.
A former moderator of the WhatsOnStage.com forum commented:
“It was fantastic seeing our online community come together to protect something they valued so much. It was a very democratic process, and we are proud to have launched the new site within a matter of weeks.”
A small team of volunteer staff came together to cover the costs and work on the design and functionality of the new site which already boasts over 500 members and is averaging 17,000 hits a day. A spokesperson said: “We are thrilled to have secured this new online home which we hope will continue to grow and flourish in the years to come. Everyone is welcome – whatever type of theatre they enjoy or how often they manage to see a show”.
TheatreBoard features sections discussing Musicals; Plays; Performers and, following member demand, a new area dedicated to Opera and Dance. Conversations already cover dozens of productions including West End, fringe and touring; alongside topics as diverse as badly behaved audiences to theatre technology and a live chat planned for the upcoming Olivier Awards.
All year round the UK delivers an exceptional wealth of live theatre in venues ranging in size from over two thousand seats down to the most intimate studio spaces. TheatreBoard aims to support informed, varied and vigorous debate among those who love theatre.
The first WhatsOnStage discussion forums were launched in 2001 and subsequently relaunched in 2007 since which time a total of more than 10,000 users registered.
WhatsOnStage was founded in 1996 and, following several changes in ownership, was acquired by TheaterMania.com in December 2012.
In March 2015, the forums became ‘closed’ and discussions only visible to registered members. From May 2015, it became impossible for new members to join the site and on 12 January 2016 WhatsOnStage and TheaterMania notified the forum that it would be closing on 12 February.
A team of seven volunteer staff are responsible for running the new TheatreBoard.co.uk site, contributing skills and time to support the various operational and technical needs.
TheatreBoard will shortly be launching its first competition giving away a pair of tickets to the hit musical, In The Heights, kindly donated by the show.
Note from My Theatre Mates: WhatsOnstage and the WhatsOnStage Forum were launched by My Theatre Mates co-founder TERRI PADDOCK, with her original business partner David Dobson. Paddock led WhatsOnStage for more than 16 years. Following its acquisition by TheatreMania, Paddock left the company in December 2013, and won a ruling of unfairly and wrongful dismissal against WhatsOnStage’s new owner at the London Central Employment Tribunal in March 2015.