Irish Theatre Magazine: How Many Reviews Does it Publish?

Just a short post. Yesterday, I asked what would happen to Irish theatre criticism now that Irish Theatre Magazine has suspended publication. I’ve had a lot of interesting responses to that post. There is one I wanted to come back to, however. One of the comments following the blog post suggested that ITM is usually very active around the time of the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Fringe – but estimated that during the rest of the year the website published only “10 to 15” reviews last year.

That’s a view I’ve heard expressed by quite a number of people.

I responded by saying that the magazine had published “at least” 130 reviews last year and the year before.

Here are the actual figures.

The number of non-Fringe/DTF reviews  published every year since 2009:

2013: 166
2012: 159
2011: 142
2010: 171
2009: 131

When we add DTF/Fringe reviews, we get the following:

2013 47 Fringe Reviews and 10 DTF, which would bring the total to 223

2012 58 Fringe and 11 DTF which would bring total to 228

I don’t have figures for years before 2013, but they aren’t far off the totals above.

So this shows that ITM was covering more than 200 shows a year – which, with some gaps, probably meant that they covered every show produced in Ireland, north and south, as well as some Irish shows produced abroad. I think there is a separate issue about why some people were unaware of the breadth of coverage – and this goes back to my comments yesterday about the need for websites now to have full-time social media people who can drive traffic.

Again, facing towards the future, it’s worth bearing these figures in mind, since they show what would be required of any organisation that sought to review (or see) everything in Ireland.

An Enemy of the People at the Gate

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed An Enemy of the People at the Gate Theatre for Irish Theatre Magazine. It’s a good production and I’d encourage people to see it.  Below is an excerpt from the review. The original with images and a full list of cast and crew is online here:

Ibsen’s 1882 An Enemy of the People is sometimes described as a problem play, in that it dramatises a  debate between two brothers about the nature of morality and individual responsibility. But that term might obscure the fact that it’s also quite a confused play: Ibsen himself was unsure whether to see it as a comedy or something more serious.

It has many of the ingredients of a Restoration-style romp (improbable entrances and exits, characters hiding behind screens to eavesdrop upon others). Yet it also has what Ibsen called a “serious basic theme” – namely, the question of what happens when an individual forces a society to accept as true something we would rather ignore. In exploring that issue, Ibsen was responding to the public outcry to Ghosts, a play notoriously described as an “open sewer” and a “loathsome sore unbandaged” by scandalised critics. Ibsen’s hero Dr Stockmann is thus often seen as a surrogate for Ibsen himself, and the play’s suggestion that the truth must be told, whatever the cost, is often viewed as Ibsen’s defence of the necessity for plays like Ghosts. But because of that identification between the writer and his hero, it’s sometimes forgotten that Ibsen was ambivalent about Stockmann, describing him as “an oddball and a hothead”, while also acknowledging that there was much to admire about him.