As you all may know, I’ve been up in Edinburgh reviewing shows for a month and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve never learnt so much whilst having an absolute blast!
However, in the last couple of days I had a debate on Twitter with a performer who had an issue with FringeBiscuit (the publication I was writing for) who didn’t believe that amateur critics had any place at the Fringe. This person believed that professional performers shouldn’t have students etc reviewing their shows. Now I have an issue with this, because I believe art should be accessible to everyone, regardless if you grew up around theatre or became interested in it in later life.
One thing I did notice at the Fringe was that the majority of the audience was middle class, and this isn’t a bad thing. However, shouldn’t a performer welcome diversity in their audience? Just because a critic hasn’t spent ten years studying theatre doesn’t mean that their opinion on it is irrelevant. I’m not literary critic but I’m well within my rights to say that ”Fifty Shades of Grey” is a poorly written book. It’s not a fact but my opinion, but as long as I can explain why I think it’s poorly written then surely my opinion is still valid?
FringeBiscuit helped me understand theatre more, and whilst I’m far from being an expert, I feel like the way I criticise and view theatre has improved greatly. At the end of the day, we all have to start somewhere. After all, some of the greatest comedians will have started in dingy clubs performing to four people, and many actors will have received terrible reviews about their performances when they first started out and some of them still do. When you’re creating art there is always going to be someone who doesn’t ”get it” and they may be a theatre critic with thirty years experience or someone who’s experiencing theatre for the very first time. Art is subjective and we have to respect people’s opinions whether we like them or not.
We all have to start somewhere, and yes we should be corrected and criticised if we make mistakes but ultimately amateur critics shouldn’t be removed from the world of theatre until performers deem us fit to review their show.