Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A night of blog-gin(g)

There aren’t many things I love as much as theatre, but gin is certainly one of them and so the invitation to a soirée that promised gin tasting and cocktail making – on a night when I had nothing booked – was pretty much a gimme. Organised by the delectably dressed Rebecca Felgate from Official Theatre, the evening promised gin and mingling (gingling if you will) with a wide range of theatre bloggers with the intention of trying to start to build something of a community around our shared interest. Of theatre that is, although if anyone wants to start a gin network, I am there.
Our cocktail cabinet for the evening
Split into teams, the gin part of the event was run by a lovely chap from Martin Miller’s gin who let us taste his wares and sniff his pots, of aromatics and flavourings that go in their gin. And then we got to enter a gin-based cocktail making competition which was lots of fun, even if we didn’t manage to win the magnum of gin(!), and where we were significantly out-punned by some brilliantly named drinks - The curious gincident of the blog in the nighttime, Let the right one gin, The ginterval – although I’ll maintain that our strawberry/gin/poppy liqueur combo tasted nicer!
The Strawberry Swing
But gin aside, it was nice to see so many like-minded folk in the same space, sharing stories about the theatre they love, what shows they currently recommend, putting names to familiar faces. And it really does feel like something extremely useful could build out of the gin-fuelled wreckage – a forum where people involved in online theatre writing can share experiences, pass on useful lessons learned in dealing with PR companies, marketing agencies and theatres, and feel supported - something that feels more significant now with the sad and swift announcement of What’s Peen Seen’s closure. 

I’m not sure at what point one becomes a blogging veteran but in my fifth year of writing regularly about theatre on this blog, and my third (maybe fourth?) year of being the London Editor for The Public Reviews, it feels close. And I have come to very much value the informal networks I have built up with friends and colleagues alike, treasuring the support they offer when things get a bit much. Which they do, quite often sometimes in a theatrical landscape which remains unsure how to deal with the growth of online media, treating it with hostility rather than trying to work with it towards our shared aim of celebrating the great theatre that London has to offer.
Collage of the evening courtesy of R Felgate inc. (her in the mint ;-))
So I look forward to seeing how this all pans out – Rebecca and the Official Theatre team seem full of the requisite energy to get us all motivated into sharing more, check out #LDNtheatrebloggers on Twitter to see just some writing that people have been doing, and if nothing else, we need to have another meet-up so that I can talk to the other half of the room that I didn’t manage to speak to. And also to find out if West End Wilma really does exist or if she’s a collective gin-based hallucination ;-)

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