I love TV commercials. Well, let me qualify that. What I love is their freedom to deal with touchy subjects. One of my favorite messages states that things look better when they're correct. Indeed, they do.
We've all been there: We eagerly await the review of our show. We glance at it ... it’s positive! Then we notice that our name's misspelled, we’re matched with the wrong part, and the theatre's URL is for some similarly named group in Texas. Is it the reviewer's fault? Maybe. Maybe not.
TheatreLouisville introduced peer reviews -- i.e., theatre reviews written by theatre people -- to Kentuckiana back in 2006. (You can view our inaugural page here.) Those are now ably handled by our "cousin" site, Arts-Louisville, with occasional help from the print media. Their reviewers don't mean to make mistakes, but reviewers are busy people, many of them writing late at night after they're done with their day jobs. They glean their info from the playbill, but there is often little quality control over these. There should be. To borrow from another favorite commercial, we wouldn’t want proofreaders doing the director's job, so why is the director doing theirs?
Of course, the same principle applies to the reviewers, and there's no excuse for publishing an article before it's ready. Accuracy in reviews is important. Reviews are included in grant applications and in actors' portfolios. Moreover, ten years down the road, the review may be the only proof that a production ever existed. With the traditional press kit gone the way of the dinosaur, what can we do?
Actually, there's a lot we can do, and it starts with each of us taking the initiative. From this link, and from the one on our home page, you’ll find a basic online Press Kit. Copy it into an email, fill out as much as is applicable, and send it to the reviewer at least a few days before opening night. With the info correct, the reviewer can do a simple copy/paste, greatly reducing the chance for errors. Attach your PR photos and their captions. You can also include some little-known facts about your production, thus making for a more interesting review and increasing the likelihood that the elusive print media will take notice.
Let's all care enough to send the very best.
- A.S. Waterman
Published Sept. 1, 2016