Monday, 6 April 2009

Noises Off: Editorial – Saturday

Welcome to the first edition of Noises Off, or Noff as it is affectionately known. Noises Off is the magazine (or newspaper, depending on how you look at it) of the Festival. It is published daily throughout the festival. The exciting thing about Noises Off is that it is written by YOU. Today’s issue has been heroically thrown together in a remarkably short space of time by a dedicated team of volunteers. Tonight, it’s your turn. Noises Off needs your reviews and satire, comment and cartoons, your photos and feature articles. Got an idea for an interview? Great. Do it. Go up to someone and ask them what you want to know, write it up and give it to Noises Off. Have something urgent to say about the state of theatre, student theatre, political theatre? Perfect. You’re this generation’s greatest undiscovered satirist? Noises Off wants to publish you.

Think of Noff as NSDF’s Facebook page. Hell, Noises Off has been facilitating user-generated-content since the mid-sixties. It would be vain to suggest that it invented web 2.0, but nevertheless that’s pretty much how it works. While theatre blogging is gradually transforming the way that theatre criticism is perceived, and indeed how it functions, Noises Off is interested in the practice of theatre criticism itself. Just as we aim to nurture the critics and arts correspondents of the future, we’re also keen to publish pieces by theatremakers. And we want to explore the grey areas between “critic” and “practitioner”. This festival is uniquely placed to facilitate the useful, fruitful collision of these two apparently separate worlds.

Elsewhere in these pages are explanations of how to get involved and possible award-led motivations for wanting to do so, but these don’t really approach the real essence of the magic that is Noises Off. Every year since it began in (I think) 1965, somehow, overnight, every day of the festival, a largely unpaid team of volunteers come together to make this remarkable little magazine. Over the years, of course, the technology has changed – my two predecessors, playwright Stephen Jefferies and theatre critic Ian Shuttleworth, tell frankly hair-raising stories about drawing grids on sheets of paper and typing up copy on manual typewriters. But the ethos has remained the same for all the time I’ve been here. Whether we have an army of volunteers each night, or a tiny band of bleary-eyed survivors struggling with technical hitches as the dawn sunlight streams through the windows of the Vitadome (or Noffice as it is lovingly known), there’s a camaraderie, and a sense of romance about making this magazine. Because, at its best, Noises Off feels like it matters, like it provides the festival with something unique at its heart.

Whether you submit one article or stay up all night every night, this is your magazine. You, the festgoer, are what makes this magazine great. So come up tonight and get stuck in.

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