Matt Trueman: Theatre Blogger Q&A

Ever thought about writing a theatre blog? In the past, we’ve chatted with top bloggers Mark Shenton and Libby Purves OBE about how they got started. Now, Matt Trueman, regular contributor to The Guardian, New Statesman, Time Out and The Stage has agreed to share his insider tips with us!
  • How bloggers get started?
  • How long should a review be?
  • Which blogs do the bloggers read?
  • How long do bloggers spend blogging?
  • Why it’s not always about the big hit shows.

Hi Matt! When did you start writing a blog and what do you wish you’d known then?

I started my blog, which was called Carousel of Fantasies, back in 2008. It led to a career in theatre criticism and I could never have expected that. Blogging’s not the same as journalism, it can be much more personal, but looking back at those early reviews, I wish I’d worried more about communication and less about style.

Which other theatre blogs do you read?

All sorts: Andrew Haydon’s Postcards from the Gods, Megan Vaughan’s Synonyms for Churlish, Maddy Costa’s States of Deliquiescence, Dan Rebellato’s Spilled Ink, Exeunt and Lyn Gardner’s Guardian blog. Overseas, I’ll read Culturebot, Parabasis, anything by Alison Croggon, Jane Howard and Holger Syme. I’ll read anything as long it’s got style and substance. The ones I tend to ignore are those along the ‘I went to the theatre and blah, blah, blah’ lines.

How much of your time do you spend on blogging?

I’m not sure I’m a blogger any more. My journalism takes many forms, a lot of it online: I review more or less every day and write a weekly column for Whatsonstage.

Have you turned your blog into a profitable business or do you write it for just for fun?

It’s not that my blog is a profitable business, but it has launched a career. I moved from a blog set-up to a professional web site as a kind of showcase space, but I’ve not had time to update it in ages!

I got lucky. When I started out, there were only a handful of theatre blogs and it was much easier to get noticed by the mainstream media. All of my writing work now has its roots in starting a blog. It allowed me to build a reputation, because it allowed readers to get to know me as a critic.

What advice can you offer someone who is thinking of starting a theatre blog?

Just do it. Write for fun. Don’t replicate the forms of mainstream media and don’t just review the big shows. Champion the theatre you love. Go out and find things that need champions. Don’t be boring.

Which show is your guilty pleasure?

Night of a Thousand Jay Astons. It was a late-night drag lipsync musical about Bucks Fizz at the Edinburgh Fringe. I went back at least ten times.

If you could have dinner with any actor, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

Nicol Williamson. Ken Tynan wrote a profile following him as he prepared to perform at the White House and he sounds fascinating and full-on.

Thanks for the tips Matt!

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“Trueman’s passion for theatre, and his uber-articulate prose, make his blog a consistently challenging and thought-provoking place to be.”
Chris Wilkinson, The Guardian