The Year 2009 was a year of wonderful changes for Theatre People.
Simon Parris, a long time community stalwart, officially became our Professional Theatre Editor in early 2009. Simon had already been a wonderful contributor to the site with both regular features and reviews on professional works. “A very good example of the relevance of the Professional Music Theatre coverage on Theatre People is the return season of Mamma Mia!” said Simon. “It is very exciting for all of us to see our TP friends Chris Buchanan and Laura Marcucci on the professional stage; after performing with them, or at least watching them, in plenty of amateur shows. Most TP readers enjoy Theatre as a hobby or social activity, but many also want to pursue it as a career. So to see our local stars go on to professional work is a great thrill. Professional Theatre (for the most part) represents the pinnacle that we all aspire to. Also, most of the shows that have professional seasons soon become available for amateur groups to perform so that is an added relevance and interest with professional shows.”
2009 also brought a very exciting development for TP: the Junior TP page. We had always supported any youth companies that were interested in participating in our site; but this new Junior section meant that we could now offer youth performers a dedicated page for them to learn the craft and for their school and company shows to be promoted, separate from us big kids! Renée Maloney, as a drama and dance secondary school teacher was the natural TP regular contributor to take on the Editor position of this section. “The Junior TP section offers the youth of our theatrical community a place to learn and to learn from each other,” said Renée. “Experienced performers and directors offer their words of wisdom to encourage students wanting to pursue performing arts outside of school. Senior students have the opportunity to share with junior students their processes within productions to audition, create characters, juggle commitments and perform to their best in school and amateur productions. We have been lucky that some experienced professional performers such as Jessie Yates and Hi-5 who have been through the non- professional circuit have been willing to share their training and theatrical upbringing to inspire our youth to follow in their extraordinary and talented footsteps.”
Theatre People has come a long way, and I’m sure still has a long way to go. So although we are looking to the future, with a wonderful new site and many plans for more wonderful developments (including the recent appointment of a brand new Straight Plays Editor Kris Weber), I’d like all involved to take a moment to reflect on what Theatre People has done for our community. “Since I got involved,” said Adam, “TP has had two visual overhauls. It has become a major player in the ‘after show entertainments’ for the Guild awards and it now has a bevy of staff and regular contributors that has resulted in the amount of new features and reviews being uploaded has increased significantly. Theatre People gives amateur theatre companies an online centralised voice to communicate with amateur theatre enthusiasts and for them to communicate back and with each other. Initially, it was a place where the core community of amateur musical theatre enthusiasts came together to meet and find out just what was going on in the amateur musical theatre scene, and it has since widened to include (in varying levels of depth) all forms of amateur theatre, including schools theatre, and professional musical theatre, plays and cabaret.”
Tristan had this to say: “At its best, it brings together the network of companies and connects them directly with their casts, production teams, orchestras and audiences. And it connects all of those groups as peers. You can know of someone long before you ever see them in anything and, (combined with Face book these days) it makes you feel as though even the people you haven’t met are only, at most, two degrees away from you.”
“Although I haven’t been directly involved for a number of years,” said Julia, “I have a huge sense of happiness in having been part of Theatre People’s inception. I see Chris as the real daddy of the site; he’s stuck with it for ten years and done the hard yards, dealt with the nappy changes and the tanties. I was something of a surrogate mother, but that doesn’t take away from my thrill of seeing it grow and evolve into the beautiful thing it is today. I think everyone who’s contributed his or her time and love to the site has a lot to be proud of. Especially the Editors (of any department), the Webmasters, Reviewers, the contributors to any section and of course the core team. I mentioned Hughesy as Big Daddy, but Sal and Richie have also been there since the beginning, with ongoing and invaluable support. You guys all officially rock. What’s that I hear? The play out music, I see. Thanks to the Academy…Goodnight…Peace…I love yous all.”
And our Head Honcho: “We wanted to create a community, not just a website. We wanted a place where theatre people could hang out, get their goss and read some reviews that really told it how it was. We wanted to have a site that gave feedback that people could use, either as an audience member to decide if they will see a show or not, or as a cast member or production team member to use the site as a feedback resource to better themselves with. We wanted the crème to rise to the top and we figured that if we could get reviews out within a few days of opening, then good shows can benefit from the word of mouth and resulting ticket sales our site could create.”
“The milestone that I’m most proud of is the day we reached a million hits a month. To this day, we still don’t pay for advertising, so we don’t have to “buy” our readers. They talk about us amongst themselves and refer their friends to us. This is the best indication that we are producing a site that is relevant to our readership. I think the other milestone that I’m incredibly proud of is reaching 10 years in existence.”
So we’ve come a long way and this year is going to be another big year for Chris Hughes and our TP Team. Chris has a lot of things up his sleave, so stay tuned. What is my personal highlight? This article, because it is an example of why I love this site so much. Yes there are the hours of work, the influx of article requests before the show seasons, problems with writers not getting back to me, causing controversies with out meaning too…. But this is a position of immense job satisfaction. I get it when I uncover a fantastic new writer, and when I send off a truly spectacular article by that writer for posting (or with our new site, I post it myself!). I get it when someone I vaguely know but can’t quite remember the name of comes up to me in a foyer and congratulates me for an article that I or one of my writers wrote. I get it at the TP Guild After Party year after year when I can’t walk two steps without bumping into someone I know. And most of all, I get it knowing that I am a part of the team that produces the web site that unites our community, every day.