Sunday, February 03, 2019

Where’d All The Theater Reviews Go?

Those of you that visit this blog and read the theater reviews may have noticed a drop off in theater review postings right after the Minnesota Fringe Festival this fall.  In fact, there were no theater postings at all in December and January.

I still love theater, of course.  Things have just gotten more complicated in recent months.

I got into theater reviewing sort of sideways, through blogging about the Minnesota Fringe Festival.  When the Fringe blogs moved from their original home on the Fringe website to the Twin Cities Daily Planet, the arts editor at the time asked me if I’d like to do some reviewing the rest of the year, for pay, and so that’s how things sort of ramped up.

When the Planet came under new management, revamped their editorial direction and kicked their current crop of arts writers to the curb, I was among those set loose.

Thereafter, the reviews were just being written on my own accord, a couple of press comps to attend the show being the only form of payment.  (Which ain’t nothin’, I realize.  Theater tickets can be pricey, and reviewing was an easy way to sing for my supper.)

Last summer my finances took a bit of a turn, and in order to pay off some debt in a more aggressive fashion, I’ve needed to pick up a lot more hours at my second part time job, which schedules me about a month in advance.  It’s a box office job at the Guthrie Theater, on top of my regular full-time job at another nonprofit which keeps regular business hours.  So my box office work is nights and weekends, which is of course when everyone else is also doing their theater.  So I either work and earn money, or I see theater and don’t earn money. 

(There’s also the added wrinkle of the occasional dark weeks at the Guthrie, no shows, no box office - which can get a little scary, so I’m trying to bulk up the paycheck now while the hours exist to buy some breathing room for leaner times in future months.)

I’ve just gotten to the point where I quite literally can’t afford to see and write about all that much theater anymore, for the time being at least.  This austerity budget will be in effect for roughly the next four years.

There’s also the fact of my own playwriting, which I am continuing to do regardless of finances.  So the little free time I have is likely to be devoted mostly to that work.

I still want to see at least one thing a month (perhaps two) that isn’t a production at the Guthrie (where they actually do pay us in the box office to see the shows during previews, so we can talk about them with customers).  We’ll see how I do with that goal.

If I had my druthers I’d be seeing things by every scrappy little theater company I could find, plus pretty much everything at the Jungle, which has really been rejuvenated under Sarah Rasmussen’s leadership.

But for now, the bank account is dictating my schedule, and that’s going to mean seeing less and writing less about one of the things I love most.

The Fringe blogging will continue each summer, largely because it’s something Mom and I do together, and she keeps planning to come out to Minnesota and visit, and wants to binge on theater while she’s in town, so for that, the Fringe is perfect.  And if I’m taking the time off anyway to spend with her, I might as well write about theater while I’m at it.

There are a couple of things on the calendar for February.  Nothing in the offing for March yet, but I’m perusing the information people are sending me.  Every time I get an email or a press release, a marker goes on the calendar.  I just can’t take advantage of nearly as many of those potential nights out as I used to.

Seeing and writing about all kinds of theater really helps feed my head for my own writing - so I’ll miss the creative stimulation.

I’ll do what I can, where I can.  But the blog’s going to be a little sparse for now.

Thanks for reading.

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