Some Notes on Note-takingDate: 7 August 2011
My colleague Jo Caird has been tweeting some of her notes from shows she’s been seeing at the Fringe (a recent example: “'Licking chain moment one of lowest of my life”).
I told her how brave this was, both because it provides a very raw insight into her reactions (she assured me she only cherry picks the best!) and because those about whom she’s note-taking will likely know who they are.
Before I started writing reviews I always wondered what it was that critics were scrawling on their pads. Now I know that it’s impossible to generalise, considering the variation of what is written. Some will appear to be writing an essay in the dark, while others will leave the theatre with a blank page dotted with only a handful of words.
If I was to do the same exercise as Jo, I can assure you my tweets would not be nearly as entertaining as hers. The reason is that when it comes to note-taking, I only ever jot down points of information, as opposed to opinions. I can always remember what I felt about a show, but will usually forget specific quotes, points of action and character details.
If you could read my lefty scrawl, you would find words like ‘tracksuits’, ‘Yorkshire’, ‘grandparents’ (some recent examples) – doesn’t sound like much, but these are crucial memory triggers when it comes to writing up my copy.
At Edinburgh, I find note-taking essential due to the number of shows I’ll see in a short space of time. If I’m reviewing in London however, I often won’t write anything at all. I used to scrawl like crazy, frightened I’d forget my feelings or a crucial narrative turning point. But often I’d find myself doing the write-up without them, or worse missing action on the stage because I was too busy writing about the previous scene.
So when you next see one of us in the stalls and wonder what we’re writing, be assured it’s probably nowhere near as profound as we’d like you to think it is.
- Theo Bosanquet
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