Reviewing: Top tips from the professional

Isabel Webb, Dance Ambassador Champion, writes about a recent workshop we held at The Lowry about reviewing.

If someone has taken the time to search out a review, it’s probably because they are going to see the show in question. And if they are going to see the show, the last thing they want the review to contain is a plot synopsis and spoiler. Wise words from arts critic Kevin Bourke and not the only insight we were treated to in his workshop. Here are the best bits:

Kevin Bourke

Kevin Bourke

Notes? Not from me!
Anyone who has ever attempted a review will have at least contemplated making notes during the performance. So the image of a poor soul, emerging into the light after two hours in a theatre to find a mess of scrawls etched into their so-called note paper, will be a familiar one.

Sleep on it.
Why suffer a caffeine-fuelled review on the night? Jot down a few ideas and lay your mind to rest for the evening; by the time you wake up (early, if you want to meet that deadline) you’ll be in a much better mood to reflect on the performance. Plus, anything you’ve forgotten in the morning probably wasn’t worth putting in anyway. It’s an editing technique, really.

Don’t be so picky!
The best way to learn is on the job, so stack up as many reviews as you can; practise makes perfect, after all. Be it a film, show or even your school pantomime, the more you see and absorb, the greater your wider cultural knowledge will be. And your reviews will be all the better for it.

Know what you put your name on.
There’s a chance with any article that has to go through an editor that it will be changed, such is the nature of journalism. Just try to make sure that what is published is something you’re happy with. After all, it’s going to have your name on it.

Never say no.
Always be open to new opportunities, because you never know what path your career/life may take. You could just as easily fall into accounting as journalism!

The overriding theme of the session was this; there is no set formula to writing a review, you just have to keep writing, reading and editing until it sounds right.

Find out how you can become a Young Reviewer at The Lowry for the upcoming dance shows and have your reviews published on this blog.

Blog post by Isabel Webb
Dance Ambassador Champion

Isabel Webb

Isabel Webb

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