East Anglia is a theatre-rich region of the UK. Performing arts venues come in a magnificent array of shapes and sizes. Many are purpose-built, some are conversions – from churches, chapels and redundant town or corn halls to former maltings and other industrial buildings (not to mention at least one bank!) – and there’s also a well-established outdoor theatre tradition. Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk offer some of the last surviving seaside summer repertory seasons.
I’ve lived in Essex since the mid-1970s, initially on the fringes of the Epping Forest and, since 1990, in the north-west of the county. I’ve been fortunate enough to work as a theatre critic and arts journalist originally in London and since 1990 across East Anglia for The Stage & Television Today (TheStage.co.uk) from 1964 to 1988 and for WhatsOnStage (WhatsOnStage.com) between 2004 and 2014, latterly as regional editor first for for just East Anglia and then for the whole of south-east England, north and south of the Thames.
In between writing about all aspect of theatre, I’ve edited two applied arts magazines – Art & Antiques Weekly and Antiques & Decoration – and been arts or associate editor for a variety of weekly and monthly arts and crafts, lifestyle and tourist-orientated publications and for various regional magazines.
No national paper or website, especially those subject to frequent ownership changes and an emphasis on maximising profitability, can hope to cover everything of interest across a region, let alone the entire country.
No more can this personal website realistically expect to cover everything theatrical in East Anglia – that’s an impossibility. Especially when that region is Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.
I simply hope to highlight for you some of the more interesting professional productions to be encountered at the different theatres and arts centres. That will include plays both new and old, opera and musical theatre, dance, theatre for children and for family audiences and, of course, festivals.
As well as show and book reviews, you will find news about theatres and previews of forthcoming seasons as announced. The history of some of our theatre buildings will also be put under the spotlight from time to time, as will prominent people – both alive and long departed.
I hope you will enjoy reading this website as much as I intend to do writing it. Theatre is a living art-form, never the same two nights running. So keep an open mind and be prepared to take a gamble on the unusual. It should be a rewarding as well as an illuminating experience.