Editorial #4

28 March 2018

Editor Kate Wyver on critics as light-catchers

With workshops replacing the regular onslaught of shows, yesterday’s programming created space for reflection. In light of this, we’ve altered the content for Noises Off. This issue focuses on the longform. It takes the space it needs to explore the questions being whispered behind cupped hands and between seats, to expand on ideas raised in discussions and in lunch queues. Renamed Noff the record for this issue only, it is laden with features on the topics that have been dominating conversation.

Daniella Harrison inspects the way some shows pull us to our feet on page 3, while Lily James questions the zeitgeist of loneliness seeping through shows on page 11. On pages 4-5, Ava Davies and Naomi Obeng discuss their reservations regarding race at the festival and detail the practical steps we can take to make an impact.

These conversations and the space they’re taking up has also made us reflect on our role as critics and question how we fit into NSDF.

In yesterday’s issue we ran a double page feature of negative reviews of a show. We should have been more delicate in the way we ran them, and perhaps more neutral in our straplines. But we also retain the right to be honest, and it would be disingenuous to ask our writers to restrain their opinions.

The joy of theatre criticism is that it captures a very particular moment. Our role as writers at this festival is to run around the venues with an open jar, bottling moments of joy and confusion and anger and frustration and progress, twisting the lid tight and bringing them back to the desk to inspect them. On page 12 Joanna Trainor expands on this as she examines the duty of a critic, while on page 13 managing editor Richard Tzanov details his own defense of this magazine and our team of writers, observing the way harsh words are stickier than kind ones.

I’d like to use the rest of this space to say thank you to the tech team. After a sneaky distraction last night, we walked back to our huddled little collection of tables, scribbled layouts and empty coffee cups, our scrappy little Noises Off sign wilting slightly. Propped up on the wall was a gift. We are now the proud owners of a giant, glittering NOFF sign. Our articles are stuck onto the cut-out letters and the whole thing is beautifully lit from beneath. For good measure, a hard hat is perched on the top of the "N". On a day when we were questioning our place at the festival, it felt like an outstretched hand leading us back into the party. I look forward to it enjoying many festivals to come.