Laura Kressly

is creating The Play's the Thing UK: UK Theatre Criticism and Features

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About Laura Kressly

Hi, I'm Laura.  I'm an independent theatre critic and founder of The Play's the Thing UK.

I mostly cover fringe theatre performance, with additional coverage of small- & mid-scale, touring and subsidised work. It's where the passion, blood, sweat and tears live in the theatre ecology. It's theatre in its purest, rawest form. It's where invention and creativity are born from low budgets, volunteering and unerring faith in the work. It is the breeding ground for new work and talent, where well-written, balanced reviews are both desperately needed and hardest to get.

I particularly focus on new work and classical theatre reinventions, but I have a democratic, first-come-first-serve policy on invitations in order to see as wide a range of work as possible.

A bit about me:

Obsessed with theatre and performance from a young age, I was 10 when I decided I wanted to be an actor. I trained at a NYC drama school and moved to the UK for my MFA in Shakespeare Performance in 2004. I planned to stay for the two years my course lasted, but it's now over 11 years since I landed with that intention. On graduating in 2006, I did the actor thing until the recession properly took hold. At that point, I thought it would be the PERFECT time to start a theatre company in order to make my own work opportunities.

It wasn't. But I persisted for 5 years and learned how to produce as well as honed my directing skills. By then I needed to give up acting in favour of paying rent and bills so began working in education ("If you can't do, teach"). Teaching eventually consumed my time and whilst I found aspects of the job fulfilling, I desperately missed engaging with the industry and had always liked the idea of reviewing theatre, so in 2013 I applied first to Remote Goat, then everything theatre. For nearly two years, I reviewed for these sites whilst teaching full time in order to keep abreast with contemporary theatre.

Eventually, I began to be invited to critique directly. These invitations increased to the point that it made sense to start my own site, so I started The Play's the Thing UK in February 2015, after making the step to part-time teaching (and earning) in order to be more flexible with my time. In March 2018, I took a leap of faith into full-time freelance and casual work.

In less than a year, my readership jumped as did the press invitations. I'm a member of Theatre Bloggers and syndicated on My Theatre Mates. Almost all of my spare time is spent at the theatre or writing reviews and I regularly have to turn down invitations. I write my reviews on my days off, on lunch breaks, and in the time between work and seeing a show, completely for free. I have guest writers who are offered the shows I can't in order to review more shows. But this is unsustainable, particularly in the current economic climate. By contributing towards The Play's the Thing UK, you will:

  • support emerging theatre companies by enabling me to responding to their work and publicising it through reviews
  • keep the site free and accessible, and up-to-date
  • expand coverage to fringe festivals and productions outside of London
  • enable more dialogue and commentary through research and writing
  • allow more time to be spent on criticism and less on my day jobs
  • facilitate my purchase of tickets from companies desperately in need of revenue rather than relying on press comps to be able to attend
  • support independent theatre journalism not constrained by house styles, word counts or editors' political agendas 

Thanks for reading and supporting independent theatre commentary, a vital aspect of a healthy theatre landscape.

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