How to Write About Theatre
A manual for critics, students and bloggers
© Mark Fisher 2015
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REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
about How to Write About Theatre
"Whatever else you read this autumn, Mark Fisher’s new book How to Write About Theatre has to be top of the list" Susan Elkin, the Stage
"Shared feelings, handy hints and good reads" Clare Brennan, Observer critic
"A perfect introduction to what could be a lifetime of pleasure" British Theatre Guide
"Insightful, entertaining, engaging, educational and really a good interesting read" @JoeBloggsDrama
"I strongly suggest you buy a copy!" Andy Horwitz
"This entertaining and informative must-read for budding, blooming or even slightly bloomed theatre critics" Edinburgh Guide
Times of Malta 6 December 2017
AS PART of an initiative launched by the Arts Council Malta and the University of Malta’s Department of English, UK theatre critic Mark Fisher will be in Malta this week to talk about arts criticism. Ahead of his visit, James Corby, head of the Department of English, asks him about the importance of arts criticism and the preconceptions we may have about it.
Stephanie Bonnici 7 December 2017
Jerel Jackson 7 December 2017
Dr James Corby 5 December 2017
Dr James Corby, Arts Council Malta, 17 November 2016
IN THE minds of many people, ‘criticism’ is something negative and undesirable. Nobody likes being criticised and even so-called ‘constructive criticism’ can seem to strike a censorious and therefore unwelcome note. Much, however, depends on what one means by ‛criticism’. In the context of the arts – visual art, performance, music, literature, film etc. – criticism, far from being considered negative and unwelcome, is understood to be vitally important.
Harriet Langdown 2 July 2016
Heart of Theatre 23 June 2016
Steve Stratford 16 June 2016
Mircea Sorin Rusu, LiterNet 7 June 2016
ÎNTR-UNUL dintre textele lui Duncan MacMillan - Every Brilliant Thing - personajul denumit în scopuri practice "naratorul" vorbeşte la un moment dat despre unul din cele mai frumoase lucruri din lume, anume acela de a citi cu atenţie şi în amănunt coperţile discurilor de vinil. Sigur, e vorba de discurile occidentale, care au şi fotografii, şi amănunte legate de contextul vreunei melodii, biografii succinte ale interpreţilor şi, de cele mai multe ori, pliante cu textele cântecelor. Şi mie îmi plăcea să stau cu ochii fixaţi pe coperţile discurilor Electrecord, dar acolo aveam doar faţă-verso: o fotografie pe prima copertă şi o listă de cântece sau o distribuţie pe a doua.
Maartje Geels 12 May 2016
Cultural Trends 5 April 2016
IT SEEMS fitting to return to Fisher’s guiding questions in assessing this book as a whole. First, what were the theatre-makers (or, in this case, the author) trying to do? How to write about theatre is a practical guide aimed at anyone writing about theatre in any setting, whether that’s a 140-character tweet, an academic essay or an overnight review for a national newspaper. The examples and exercises included aim to help writers express themselves more clearly; attempt a variety of methods and approaches; and expand their awareness of issues surrounding theatre-making (in general and those specific to a production). Second, how well did they do it? Fisher’s authoritative yet approachable writing style and his obvious passion for theatre criticism make this an engaging and essential read for anyone interested in the art of writing about theatre (critic or not). The book is laid out in a pragmatic, accessible way, and Fisher successfully guides the reader through each topic, providing valuable insights along the way. Finally, was it worth it? Most certainly. Aspiring writers, students, bloggers and even the most experienced critic will benefit from reading this book. Indeed, it is useful for any theatregoer, whether or not they intend to write about the experience, in developing a critical understanding of theatre, an awareness of what cultural and socio-political conditions affect its reception, and the vocabulary needed to clearly articulate the experience of a dynamic, flexible and constantly shifting art form.
Hannah Manktelow 25 March 2016
Amazon customer 25 February 2016
THIS is a really useful book for anyone interested in theatre reviewing. It breaks down the components of reviewing and contains lots of little exercises to help you reflect on these and develop your style. It would actually be helpful to any fans/ students of theatre, as Fisher covers a lot of the theoretical work in the field, although without referencing specific practitioners or theorists. The lack of bibliography is a bit disappointing; there are endnotes at the end of each chapter so it's not difficult to locate sources, but it would be helpful to have a list of recommended books/ articles/ websites. Overall though, this is an informed work that will benefit the budding reviewer.
La Clá 7 February 2016
“HOW TO write about theatre” es un libro de enseñanzas con un lenguaje sencillo y directo que lo hace muy divertido de leer. Es un manual que contiene buenos consejos de escritura y enfoque. Además, tiene la virtud de ser uno de esos libros que abren horizontes y que te llevan a investigar nuevos libros y blogs.
Paul Levy 3 February 2016
THIS is an important book from an author I first encountered through his earlier book, The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: How to Make Your Show A Success. Fisher writes accessibly and practically. You'll get into this material easily with plenty of examples to help you hone your own skills as a critic and reviewer. As the founder of Fringe Review, I've been shocked at how little there is in the public domain to help both budding and seasoned theatre critics. Show's can be harmed by poor quality reviewing and the craft of being a critic is a skill in need of more published help.
Xanthe Vaughan Williams 2 February 2016
Robert James Peacock 29 January 2016
Matthew Jackson 26 January 2016
GREAT book! Must read for anyone looking into reviewing productions
Heart of Theatre 5 January 2016
Amy Powell Yeates @amypowellyeates 17 December 2015
@WriteAboutTheat I really enjoyed it, great read. Took me back to my Edinfest reviewing days - the joys & frustrations! Happy Xmas etc.— Amy Powell Yeates (@amypowellyeates) December 17, 2015
Vivien Devlin: The Smart Leisure Guide 12 December 2015
THIS is a comprehensive, astutely researched, academic guide to theatre criticism with historical and cultural insight . . . “How to Write About Theatre” is an inspirational, constructive manual for all theatre professionals. It is a also a fascinating overview for theatre lovers to understand the cultural relevance, truth, knowledge, sincerity, wit and humour behind the fine art of dramatic criticism.
Andrew Haydon @postcards_gods 10 November 2015
Focus: The Journal of the Association of Lighting Designers October/November 2015
THERE is much in this book for lighting designers and, indeed, all members of the production team to consider. Whether or not we are consciously analysing and writing about theatre in the same way as a critic, we, as practitioners, are thinking about the same things in our work: finding our voice, reacting in the moment, considering emotions, culture, society and politics.
Jafar Iqbal @writeofcentre 25 September 2015
Jafar Iqbal @writeofcentre 24 September 2015
The Stage 18 September 2015
AND FINALLY folks, whatever else you read this autumn, Mark Fisher’s new book How to Write About Theatre (Bloomsbury) has to be top of the list. If you’ve ever tapped out so much as a tweet about a show (which is in effect a mini self-published review), then this is the book for you. An awful lot of twaddle is written and said about reviewers and critics (and yes, according to Fisher, there is indeed a difference) and, of course, there is ultimately no single correct way of doing it well. So it’s good to hear a still small voice of calm – authoritative but open minded.
@ClareMBrennan 16 September 2015
Edinburgh Guide 3 September 2015
FISHER takes a kindly non-hectoring tone to impart his experience and research in this entertaining and informative must-read for budding, blooming or even slightly bloomed theatre critics. It is clearly written, widely researched and in the typically even handed and generous style of the author, holding either pertinent reminders or revelations of how to practise the craft of writing for theatre from the cerebral Colossus to bears of little brain.
@SallyStott 1 September 2015
John Cairns 27 August 2015
I'VE read two chapters and, damn, I'm going to have to buy hard copy for the office!
All Edinburgh Theatre 26 August 2015
FISHER, in characteristically generous mood, discussed the various roles of the critic in relation to his new book How To Write About Theatre, with his examination of the issues surrounding reviews of preview performances of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet particularly illuminating and even-handed.
The Herald 25 August 2015
THERE was a high-octane performance of a different order when theatre critics Mark Fisher, of the Guardian, and The Scotsman's Joyce McMillan addressed the subject of the "crisis in arts journalism", speaking as fast as if an autocue had been overwound. If that's what a life of on-the-night reviewing does to the synapses, medical science should take note. It was certainly impressive, as was their optimism about the future of theatre criticism in a time of declining newspaper circulation and budgets, and the rise of social media and citizen critics.
Edinburgh Guide 25 August 2015
IS ARTS Is journalism in crisis? It’s certainly not in as good a place as it once was, when Joyce McMillan and Mark Fisher first began reviewing the enlivened Scottish theatre scene in the 1980’s, according to them. Much has changed since those days, not all of it, possibly, for the better. In his new book ‘How to Write About Theatre; a Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers’ Fisher discusses the techniques that can be employed by those writing about theatre, while in this event he discussed, in tandem with Joyce Macmillan, the present state and uncertain future of the critical enterprise itself.
Andy Horwitz 17 August 2015
I HAVE been reading it on and off for the past few days and will almost certainly be using it to teach from in the future. It is really well considered, thorough and offers lots of practical exercises, context and insight. I strongly suggest you buy a copy!
@JoeBloggsDrama 8 August 2015
@MarkFFisher My v. Delayed review of said latest book: insightful, entertaining, engaging, educational and really a good interesting read :)— Lucy (@JoeBloggsDrama) August 8, 2015
British Theatre Guide 3 August 2015
THIS is not the easiest book to review, given that the author is an expert in criticism and will unerringly pick up any failings that your modest writer might demonstrate. However, as he explains, the nature of the profession is that a critic has at times to be brave. Mark Fisher has written an intelligent and insightful manual “for critics, students and bloggers” that will help those studying theatre criticism to understand their chosen trade and pursue it more effectively.
Rogues and Vagabonds 30 Oct 2014
WHAT a very neat idea and not before time, says she who wrote many theatre reviews for her original R&V website without any advice, merely instinct! It was important to me to remark upon those aspects which didn’t work in a decent manner and not one fashioned to make the cheap gibes and headlines of which some are guilty.
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