It takes a ‘village’ of creatives to put a show together. For everyone to be on the same page, you need feedback. However, theatre criticism, aka reviews, is another form of feedback. Feedback comes from the rehearsal room, the audition panel or the classroom, whereas theatre criticism comes from the audience’s views.
Written by Critics on Press Night, reviews analyse the quality of the play, the creative team’s decisions (sets, lighting, costumes, etc.) and the Director’s choices. Good reviews are there to make you think about the creative choices you have made. Don’t take them as judgments. They can be really helpful because they offer you the audience’s point of view, people who were not part of the rehearsal process.
Never forget, though, that your goal is not to please critics. Critics are coming from a different place, and sometimes it’s best not to engage with them too much.
Feedback, however, is something you will have to deal with as it is coming from the rehearsal room, audition panel or your Tutor. The question is: how do you approach feedback in a way that doesn’t affect your mental health?
I had a chat with Life/Acting Coach and Author of ‘A Life-Coaching Approach To Screen Acting’, Daniel Dresner. He says that you should “approach feedback in a spirit of curiosity”, which means being open to your Director or Tutor’s feedback. Don’t forget that you are part of the project because they are interested in you and your work. They are rooting for you right from the audition or interview stage, so the feedback you are getting is not a judgment of your character. It should always be about the work, so try to “take the emotion out of it”, as Daniel Dresner would say.
The feedback a Producer or Director gives you is there to help you stay on track by reminding you of the world of the play you’re all trying to create. Listen to their notes very carefully. Daniel Dresner would even encourage you to rephrase and repeat their feedback to make sure you clearly understand what they would like you to do. And don’t forget to thank them. Feedback is help, not criticism.
The process of putting a show together is an exciting but complex one, and you have to trust that the process will get you there as long as you keep at it. Don’t let the critical voice in your head get the best of you. You are a part of this project because your voice, your sensitivity, your talent are valued. Stay engaged in the process, welcome feedback, and share your thoughts and ideas with the creative team. It will make the show stronger.
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Written by Youness Bouzinab
Youness Bouzinab is a Moroccan, Greek and Belgian, performer, theatre-maker and dramaturg. He trained on the BA (Hons) Acting, Collaborative and Devised Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Since graduating, Youness has worked with Complicité, Frantic Assembly and at the National Theatre Studio.
Published: 21 October 2021
Blog photo: Shutterstock