I’ve been mulling over how many hours I must have spent in the last 21 months viewing and reviewing online theatre, not to mention researching what’s out there, writing it up into my listings and regularly updating these. Of course, it’s an impossibility to calculate and I have an idea it would scare me witless if I was able to do so. Not that I begrudge a moment as it’s been a way for sanity to be preserved during lockdowns, restrictions, repeated vaccinations, shielding, testing, cancelled holidays, rescheduled outings, disappointments of both a social and theatrical nature and the rest of this craziness. How I’ve managed to avoid catching IT, I don’t know but (without wanting to invoke a jinx) it hasn’t happened so far.
When I began this adventure in April 2020 it was an impulse idea to get me through a month of the virus – because that’s how long it was going to be around for…wasn’t it? I even gave the project the hashtag name of #30plays30days. Somehow though, after that initial burst, I kept going and more accurately this would now read #1000plays640days. During that time, I’ve seen plays, musicals, monologues, experimental stuff, dance projects, children’s shows, collage pieces, physical theatre and all manner of other drama material as well as listening to audio and participating in online interactive experiences. If you’re wondering about the numbers, I would readily admit that some of the material was very brief. In fact, the shortest piece (Philip Ridley’s River) lasted just two minutes though perhaps this is rather balanced out by the longest (the RSC’s legendary Nicholas Nickleby) which came in at about 9.5 hours. While I can’t say I’ve wholeheartedly enjoyed everything I have tackled, I have certainly appreciated the work and commitment that has been expended and remained grateful that modern technology has allowed the industry to keep us (me?) occupied. Mostly it’s been amazing. I’m also humbled that you readers out there have wanted to engage with my ramblings and that companies, venues, writers and actors have regularly quoted the material and helped to support my efforts. Thanks one and all – I owe you big time.
Anyway, with the end of the month and year arriving yesterday, as well as simultaneously reaching the magic 1,000 marker, the stars seem to be aligned. Add to that in the last couple of months theatres themselves have reopened and I’ve been forcibly reminded that the communal venue based approach is where the magic really happens. So, time to take my foot off the accelerator, though I won’t quite be bringing the vehicle to a halt just yet and I certainly won’t be applying the handbrake. (Please excuse the tortuous analogy but as it’s a style that helped to get Jonathan Van Tam onto the New Years Honours list I thought I’d take a leaf out of his vehicle manual – that’s too much, Ed.)
I’m planning on keeping the theatre online listings running although not updating quite so regularly. As far as reviewing is concerned I’ll hopefully be mixing the live with the online but without feeling the pressure to publish something new every day. Indeed, today is the first time for 921,000 minutes that I won’t be firing up the laptop to watch and review some online theatre. It almost feels transgressive.
To ensure you don’t miss any of the ongoing stream of nonsense which will continue to blight the world, do follow the blog and/or hit the relevant buttons on Twitter or Facebook (details below). In the meantime, all best wishes for 2022 and let’s hope that theatre can continue to grow and thrive whether it’s in a physical venue or via the ether. I’ll leave you with an aphorism which I’ve tried to keep in mind while assessing the talents of so many others:
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