Where and what did you study?
I studied English and Psychology at Hope University in Liverpool.
Where does the title of your blog come from?
To cut a long story short, Rev Stan was a nickname that I started using on my personal Twitter account to keep it separate from my work Twitter account. When I set up the blog, I was already Tweeting about theatre as Rev Stan, so it felt like an obvious continuation of that persona.
Why did you start writing / Where does your passion for theatre come from?
I started going to the theatre as a student. I had friends who were studying drama, and I was studying English, and you could get cheap student tickets. When I moved to London for work, I wasn’t earning very much, so didn’t think I could afford to go to the theatre. So I got out of the habit. It wasn’t until years later that I remembered how much I enjoyed going to the theatre and started dipping my toe in again. It quickly grew into an obsession. I started writing for a number of reasons. I wanted to keep a record of all the plays I was seeing, plus I enjoyed writing. My day job was a business journalist but writing the blog was different; it was about writing for me and in my own voice.
As an independent blogger, what were the challenges you had to face?
Time is the biggest challenge. Blogging doesn’t pay anything, so I have to fit in theatre trips and writing around work. Sometimes I have to sacrifice the blogging to prioritise work because that is what pays the bills… and buys the theatre tickets. The other big challenge is how theatres and professional critics view bloggers. Theatre-land has been very slow to embrace digital and social media. And in some quarters, there is still a snobbishness.
Would you say that there is a difference between journalists and bloggers?
Journalists are paid, bloggers generally aren’t. Journalists are writing for publications which are aimed at a particular readership, and that, I’m sure, feeds into how they review. For example, someone writing for the Daily Mail readership vs writing for the The Guardian. Bloggers, I feel, have more freedom. Then there are the tickets. Bloggers get some complimentary press tickets but also buy theatre tickets. Review tickets are generally good seats, but if you are spending your own money, it might be the cheaper seats. I think that gives bloggers a more realistic experience of theatre-going. I’ve seen plays where the set design severely limited how much I could see, or the direction/blocking meant the actors were hidden from view for large periods of time. It affects how you experience a play. A theatre critic would never be put in seats like that, but theatres are selling those tickets to the public. It’s something I reflect in my reviews.
Do you feel your reviews are as legitimate as the ones written by paid journalists?
Yes. Why wouldn’t my impression/thoughts about a play be any less valid than someone who is being paid?
Do you think independent bloggers have a role to play within the theatre community?
Definitely, for two key reasons. It allows more diversity of voices reviewing theatre. And, given that people have far more choice of where and how they consume information, it broadens the reach of theatre criticism.