Laura Kressly

Laura Kressly

The Play's the Thing UK: British Theatre & Performance Criticism

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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 and off-West End theatre performance, touring and subsidised work that's small-mid scale. This theatre is at its most resourceful and least cynical. 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.

A bit about me:

Interested in 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 nearly 20 years since I arrived. I have worked variously as an actor, producer, and arts administrator before finding a home in theatre criticism. I also work as a dramaturg and teacher.

I began reviewing in 2013, first for the now-defunct Remote Goat, then everything theatre. For nearly two years, I reviewed for these sites whilst teaching full time. 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 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 syndicated on My Theatre Mates, co-founded the Network of Independent Critics in 2016, and was a fellow at the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in 2017. Almost all of my spare time is spent at the theatre or writing reviews and I have to turn down most of my 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 cover more productions. 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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