Why did I post as Bulldog? (Update July 2017)
There was nothing nationalistic about it. Nothing to do with Winalot, Winston Churchill, paper clips or annoying car insurance ads. It’s just an enduring nickname I’ve got because I look like one. That much can clearly be seen in this picture of me being cuddled by the late Yvonne Mitchell, the British actress I most wish I’d seen on stage (she gave her last theatre performance before I saw my first one).
I generally favour ‘Actor’ to cover all of the sexes but use ‘Actress’ here because that’s how Yvonne Mitchell described herself. It’s even the title of her 1957 autobiography, which she wrote very early in her career. It’s a great shame she didn’t write a second volume twenty years later, but by that time she had a parallel career as a novelist. Maybe she preferred fiction to reflection by that stage?
I became hooked on watching plays after first going to the theatre as a child. Since then I’ve been to many hundreds of performances. I’d always be reviewing what I saw in my head but it never crossed my mind to try and write any of it down. People like me did not become theatre reviewers as far as I knew. It seemed a crazy and fantastic idea. And so it proved to be.
This ill-fated blog came about after I received a lot of encouragement from various people when The Guardian thought this micro-review I submitted was fit to publish late last year:
I decided it would be an interesting experiment and so I created this blog and started posting reviews of the plays that I went to see. They weren’t much cop but I discovered I really enjoyed writing about theatre!
A few weeks later my attention was drawn to something placed online by Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. This claimed to be looking for ‘new voices’ to write about theatre and performance:
It sounded too good to be true (and, as it turned out, was) but the timing was perfect so I applied for it. To my amazement I was accepted onto it. Halfway through it, I was amazed for quite different reasons. I’m still not sure what the scheme was trying to achieve over those ten weeks. The lack of enthusiasm or preparation was tangible. Nothing was ‘honed’, the website never appeared (neither did many promised tickets) but at least one of the guest speakers was very interesting indeed. It didn’t take long to discover (via the uncomfortable silence and lack of any feedback whatsoever on any written work) that as a writer, I made an excellent nightclub bouncer.
This realisation coincided with a change in my circumstances which meant that theatre visits immediately became unaffordable on any regular basis. Hence this has turned out to be a very short-lived blog at least as far as theatre reviews are concerned. Not everything can go on for a long time. I’ve outlasted two West End musicals and around fourteen managers of Crystal Palace FC and seen some interesting theatre along the way. But the death of a dream is always bitterly painful not to mention embarrassing. I still add to the blog from time to time but not (on the whole) with theatre reviews. I enjoy writing even if it makes for poor reading and there’s always something to drone on about…