We understand that getting feedback for your work can be difficult, not only do you have to seek out some good constructive responses but you then have to endure the process of another person critiquing something that you have worked hard on.
Feedback is an incredibly important part of theatre: when your show is performed in front of an audience they will form their own opinions about your work and if these opinions aren’t particularly favourable it is much more difficult to rectify than if you catch any issues early on through constructive feedback.
In the world of theatre, feedback helps us to grow and as I have said before: criticism is no bad thing. Once you have accepted that you need feedback in order to develop both your skills and your work (which everyone does, regardless of how experienced you may be), you can then focus on seeking out the best possible feedback available to you. There are a few things to look out for when you are pursuing good feedback.
When working in theatre, feedback needs to be clear and specific. This applies to both the person giving and receiving the feedback. If you have a clear understanding of what type of feedback you are looking for then you can ask specific questions which generate useful and specific answers. These answers can then be used to develop your work.
The more specific you are the more specific your feedback will be: whether it’s a query about acting, directing or writing, focusing your feedback will give you something solid to work with. However, don’t ignore any advice given to you that isn’t directly relating to what you have asked, it is all useful information that you can use to help your work to progress.
Seek Feedback in Good Time
So you’ve completed a piece of work and you think it is ready to make its debut in the theatre. Feedback is the next thing that you should look for, and make sure you receive feedback in good time is an essential part of ensuring that it will be constructive. Show somebody what you’ve been working on and give them enough time to think it through, but don’t leave it so long that they cannot remember important elements of your work. You could be missing out on important information.
It also goes without saying: the sooner you receive the feedback the sooner you can get working on improvements. This is particularly important in the theatre as you will find yourself working to tight deadlines, so the sooner you rectify your issue the sooner you can move on with your production.
Get More than One Opinion
Seek advice from more than one source and get as many opinions as you can. Opinions are subjective but through consulting multiple sources for feedback on your work you can look for patterns and identify which issues you really need to work on.
When consulting these sources ensure that they provide you with lots of examples to really illustrate their point and help you to understand the best course of action for improving your work. It is better if these sources know what they are talking about. But if not, ensure that you know what bad feedback looks like, this will help you to choose what to work on and what to ignore. You can find out what good and bad criticism looks like here.
Where to Look for Feedback
If you are an actor, director or writer it is advisable to look for feedback from somebody within the world of theatre. Feedback, in its early stages, should come from somebody who knows what they are talking about, make use of their expert advice and turn to colleagues and theatre professionals to find out how to improve your work.
It is possible to get those last minute changes in through asking for feedback from your audience. It is important to continue developing your work and maintain a high standard. After all, this is likely going to be the most impartial feedback that you will receive and if you work quickly you can utilise it.
There are various online forums dedicated to theatre and the industry, where you can safely discuss your ideas and show your work to other people who will give you insightful tips and ways that you can improve.
The theatre is based on community and making use of this community will help you to develop.
Although we do like to share our ideas, be wary of the people that are just there to take your work for themselves.
Good friends should be honest with you, although the chances are that if you are asking your friends and family for feedback they will just tell you what you want to hear. Which is great for your ego but this is what bad feedback looks like, it leaves no room for you to develop and gives you a false sense of security about the standard of your work. Unless you have a brutally honest friend, avoid using these as a source of feedback and stick to impartial and expert opinion.
Once you are able to accept that feedback is important to yourself and the industry, you can then begin to seek it from reliable and impartial sources. Keeping your questions specific, asking multiple sources, looking for patterns within the feedback and seeking it in good time are sure-fire ways to gain some beneficial and constructive feedback that helps you to develop your work properly.
The Features Editor for How to Do Theatre, Daniel is into travel, popular culture and sometimes a combination of the two. He is obsessed with travelling and is keenly interested in all things marketing. His biggest influences are Alex Garland, David Ogilvy and Andy Warhol.