I’m busier than ever these days as a critic for Entertainment Focus, as well as working on my own reading and writing projects. Normally I’m at the theatre about twice a week, and I churn through books too. It’s a great privilege, hard work, and I love it!
Last night I witnessed Pip’s intimate knowledge of his craft first-hand, and it was fascinating to see. We were in Highbury for a gig at the Garage, and after a miscommunication meant that an arranged interview initially didn’t go according to plan; we retreated to an Italian restaurant across the road where, over two courses, Pip used his brains and charm to work out the result he was after.
I was then allowed to loiter in the background and watch him interview the American actor and musician Thomas Ian Nicholas backstage at the venue. If an interview looks effortless then the interviewer has done a good job, and that’s what I took from watching Pip. Nicholas is charismatic and charming, but he still needs an interviewer to feed him the questions and help him to structure his thoughts on his work.
Seeing Pip in full interview and organization mode was an insight into the other side of his craft. I’m normally placed either as an audience member, looking beyond a proscenium arch, or safely behind the pages of a book. Rarely am I at the coalface.
I feel very at home critiquing because it helps my own writing. I have to constantly appraise every piece of work I’m presented with, and even if I don’t like it, I have to justify why I think it falls short. In fact, I often find the hardest reviews to write come from organizing my mind after being bowled over. When it’s your work, it pays to be your own harshest critic and work at something until it’s as good as it can possibly be, striving towards an unattainable perfection.
I guess that’s what all artists are after, whatever their craft. In some ways we’re all still learning.