A Summer of Writing About Theatre

Anthony J. Piccione

This summer, I have had the great opportunity and pleasure of writing for On Stage. This has been a very rewarding experience for me, as someone who loves theatre and writing and has been looking for more experience working as a writer in the field of theatre. From reviews of different shows to lists of my favorite (or least favorite) shows, songs or monologues to articles that I’d like to think have shaped or sparked discussions about the current state of theatre, I am very happy with the work that I have done so far here at On Stage. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity that Editor-in-chief Chris Peterson has given me, and as this summer comes to an end, I wanted to take just a bit of time to reflect on this experience that I’ve had.

Before I started writing my own articles, I had already been following On Stage on Facebook for some time, after having seen some of my Facebook friends that I knew from past theatre experiences had liked the page. At one point, I saw a post in my news feed about a summer internship opportunity seeking highly-skilled writers in college across the world to write articles for On Stage. As someone who is equally passionate about theatre and writing, I thought an opportunity like this was perfectly suited for someone like me. So I immediately sent out an email expressing interest in the internship, and was told that in order to qualify, I needed to submit an essay on Why I Love Theatre by mid-April to show my skills as a writer for the blog.

So I wrote and submitted an essay that talked all about my past experiences in the theatre community. From the first play I ever did in 2008 with my high school Drama Club to my dozens of productions in community theatre to my experience working in youth theatre programs to my more recent endeavors as a playwright. I tied it all together into one larger theme about how theatre has changed my life, and made me the person and the artist that I am today. At the time, I wasn’t 100% certain that this essay would be enough to get me this opportunity, but I did know that it was me writing about myself and my experiences in theatre in the most honest and detailed way I possibly could, and that was all I could ever hope to accomplish in a situation such as this.

Thankfully, about a week or two after I submitted it, I found out that I was one of six applicants – out of what I remember being told was nearly one-hundred – to be selected to write for On Stage as part of a college internship, with the possibility of continuing to write for On Stage after the summer if I desired. As soon as my spring semester at college was completed, I got in touch with Chris via Skype and was able to discuss the sort of work that I would be doing going forward. In addition to sharing my proposals for my first couple of columns at On Stage, I also immediately landed an opportunity to start reviewing some professional shows that were in my area. Already, this was shaping up to be an exciting summer for me.

At Connecticut Repertory Theatre, the 2015 Nutmeg Summer Series – which consisted of Les Miserables, Peter Pan and Xanadu – was going on from late-May to mid-July, and because of how close I lived to UConn, I was easily able to go on behalf of On Stage to see the shows on opening night, and write reviews of them over that same weekend. After my reviews for CRT’s shows got more attention, I later received a personal invitation from Hole in the Wall Theater – whose work I had previously been familiar with before working with On Stage – to review their August production of the play Enron, which I now consider to be one of the most underrated plays of the 21st century (so far) that I’ve ever seen produced. These reviews seemed to bring positive attention to both the theaters and to On Stage (I’ll admit that seeing my name in ads alongside the Hartford Courant’s Frank Rizzo was quite humbling) and was also a highly enjoyable experience for me as someone who just loves watching great theatre.

But primarily, over the past three and a half months, I wrote a variety of columns on various topics of discussion in the theatre community, including columns such as Kinky Boots is Overrated (It Has To Be Said), If Math and Science Are Compulsory in School, the Arts Should Be Too, Yes Theatre Is Becoming Culturally Obscure, But I’m Not Ready To Accept That and the highly provocative and irreverent Theatre vs Theater: Settling the Difference. I also wrote several lists of shows, musical numbers and monologues, and used them to express my feelings on those as well. These lists include 7 Overdone Audition Monologues for Males, 7 Overdone Audition Monologues for Females, 10 Reasons Why Film Adaptations of Musicals Tend to Fail and 10 Musicals That Community Theatres Need to Just Stop Producing. 

In addition to columns such as these, I also had the chance to write a bit about some of my experiences in theatre and share those with the world, as I hoped that maybe some of the readers might be able to relate to them a bit. This included my ongoing Tales of an Almost Professional, Twenty-Something Year Old Playwright series which documents my journey and experiences as a young playwright (stayed tuned for a new volume in two weeks, by the way) and also a column entitled Lessons Learned While Teaching Youth Theatre that discusses my experience working at New Britain Youth Theater this summer, and how it is relevant to the entire theatre community. Near the end of this summer, I also wrote highly personal columns about my past experiences in theatre such as Theatre Saved My Life From Depression, It Can Save Others Too and Being Autistic in the Theatre Community, and words can’t describe how grateful I am for the mostly positive feedback I’ve gotten on both of those two columns.

Overall, it was nice to see so many people be able to read about my opinions and experiences in theatre, and I appreciated each and every bit of feedback I received from my readers. It was also interesting to see the reactions and debates that were sparked by some of the more controversial articles (I still don’t understand why so many people HATE the film version of Sweeney Todd) that I’ve written over the past couple of months. As this summer comes to an end, and as I return to college next week for my final year as a student, I can’t help but feel a small bit of pride in what I’ve managed to do this summer. In addition to working at NBYT, participating in 3 different 24 hour playwriting events, and participating in the 31 Plays in 31 Days challenge, I have to say that writing for On Stage this summer has been an exhilarating highlight for not just this summer, but for my overall year so far, and I look forward to the opportunity I now have to continue writing here for a very long time. I hope you will all continue to read the work of myself and my fellow writers as both On Stage and its audience continues to grow over time, and as we continue to be the leader in theatre opinion and discussion.

I’m looking forward to it…