Sunday, 8 February 2015

For Andrew and Jeremy

Although I didn't follow the subsequent twitter debate - I assume it got a little bit heated - I was intrigued by Andrew Haydon's 2013 piece on Headlong. Haydon explicitly states that he is not optimistic about the prospect of Jeremy Herrin's arrival at the company, and fears that it will lead to the creation of  more of 'exactly the opposite of the theatre to that which I like.' 

If, as I suspect, this escalated into a war of tweets, I would like to stand up for the value of Haydon's post.

Above all, I don't think I would ever write a post like this, calling out an appointment to a theatre company (unless money was involved). That's partially cowardice, but mostly a lack of confidence in my own ability to call it right. I make too many big statements about the nature of existence, the ontology of theatre - and these have the advantage of being difficult to refute (and little interest), and slip under the radar. 

But Haydon's piece covers a wide range of topics, from the morality of the critic, the reality of the culture war in the UK and the various shifts in London theatre back in 2013, before getting to an attack not on Herrin's personality but his aesthetic. It is honest, and avoids the kind of rudeness that might have marked any subsequent debates.

It is a good example of criticism. It identifies Haydon's taste, presents his partisanship and recognises the wider cultural impact of theatre. It goes beyond the dull review of a specific event, and provides context both for Haydon's other articles and Herrin's position.

It is also a reminder of how the blog can liberate criticism from the traditional platform and allow bigger questions to be considered - I would go so far to say that writers who only do reviews through established platforms (newspapers, even Exeunt or The Mighty List) are not critics but journalists.

This is not an insult but a recognition that their impact is different, and the format of formal reviews insists on a particular agenda. I am not a journalist - I am not.

I hope that they do get to do coffee together - and I hope that the Headlong tour to Scotland might allow me to have an opinion on their work... I quite fancy being partisan...

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