Saturday, February 7, 2009

October 26, 2008 - Roberto's England - Vol. 2, Ch. 5


I've been overdue for another one of these updates, but I've been very busy with work. It's been the longest two weeks.

I spent the first week doing the hard part of being a theatre critic. I mentioned last time all about going through press releases and scheduling. Well, that was only the beginning. I thought contacting press agents and theaters would not be too difficult, but I was wrong. If all went well, the agent would respond right away and say that your seats are reserved for the dates requested. If things went bad, they wouldn't respond and you would have to bug them until they gave you a confirmation. if things went really bad, the agents would ask you to pick another date.

My boss' schedule for the month of November is completely booked, so when an agent asked me to move something around it was not taken well. I would have to move five shows around just to accommodate one. Requesting tickets took me forever because I kept having to rework the schedule. The day I finally finished all the booking I had to stay two hours after my shift was over. My boss kept telling me I should go home, but I did not want to come back the next morning to more of the same. I left work with a massive headache and quite exhausted, but
the schedule and bookings were done. The first week was definitely the most difficult.

This week was also a lot of work, but it was a different beast altogether. I am now reviewing shows, so it means I am working a lot more than my colleagues. Their shifts end, and that's it. Mine ends, and I still have to work at night.

Last Sunday I reviewed my first show, "La Clique." It is a circus/burlesque show that featured naughty gymnasts, ribald jokes, a woman who strips to her birthday suit and pulls a handkerchief out of her hoo-haw, and much more. To put it simply, it was a fun first assignment.

Since Wednesday though, I have been reviewing a show every night. Tonight is my first break. Wednesday was a musical adaptation of "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" (so funny and cynical; Oscar Wilde meets "Sweeney Todd"). Thursday I'll go into in a bit. Friday was "Shooting Clouds" (a wonderful "kitchen sink"-style family drama that used a small town in Georgia during the 1958 recession as the setting; the Brits did a great job with the Southern American accents). Yesterday was "Cradle Me," a family drama that featured such stellar performances that have to been to be believed (amazing. Simply amazing.).

But back to Thursday. I may have mentioned in an earlier e-mail that my job would involve travel. Thursday was the first instance of this aspect of my reviewing duties. I took a train to Salisbury to review the 50th anniversary revival of "A Taste of Honey" (a dated play, but lovely production). The 1.5 hour train ride up to Salisbury is filled with green plains, farm communities, and other pretty sights. The city itself reminded me a bit of Oxford. It had that very quaint, small-town feel to it. It is situated on the Avon, so it had plenty of bridges as means of crossing the river. I had fun getting lost in its city centre and high street. I even found that a carnival was in town. I LOVE carnivals. They are such simple, old-fashioned fun and fill me with nostalgia for days of yore. That, and they're a great excuse to eat cotton candy (or candy floss, as the Brits call it). Sadly, I had a job to do and couldn't spend any time going on the rides.

I'm not reviewing on my own this week, but I will be going to the press night for "La Cage aux Folles." I'll be rubbing elbows with all the theatre critics in town, and enjoying a fun, camp musical.

And while on the subject of reviewing, allow me to express my complains. I get a byline for all my reviews and they are published, but it's with what is published under my name that I have a problem. My boss HEAVILY edits my pieces. I feel what is left is a bastardized shadow of my original critique. I was going to include the link to my published reviews in this e-mail, but I am almost embarrassed by what you would see as my work. We'll see what I end up doing.
Maybe I'll swallow my pride and just get over it. But I say the edits make my work look mediocre and pedestrian.

That's all for now. I'm going to make good use of my day off and do absolutely nothing. I will, however, leave you with a preview of the next two travelogues. One will be about this work week and what comes of my week to cook dinner for everyone. I decided to make a French country dinner for my fellow grad students, and I will have some wonderful French music playing in the background. The second update will be about my upcoming weekend trip to Cardiff. I'm sure it's going to be a fun trip involving lots of hilarity and good times.


- R

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