This mentor feedback is part of the LitNet | STAND theatre review workshop. The ten participants each submit a review to the workshop mentors for feedback. The participants will then be able to edit their submissions, receive additional feedback from the mentors and finalise their reviews.
This is the first feedback on version 1 of Jane Mpholo’s review.
Feedback from Tracy Saunders
The vivid descriptions of the outdoor elements of this production are conveyed beautifully in Jane’s review. One really gets a sense of the production and how it is experienced on a multi-sensory level. Sometimes a review can take you to the heart of a production, even though there is little chance that you will be able to watch it personally. There is the added level of complexity in reviewing a performance staged in a language other than English, and in conveying the story and the characteristics of the text without losing too much in translation. One will never fully convey the complexities and nuances, but this review gives a strong sense of the ritual and ceremony of the piece. In addition to reviewing the performance, the reviewer has really shared her personal experience of the production. I was left with the sense that this is an experience, not just a performance in the traditional sense. I would have liked to learn a little more about the actors on stage – who they were, how many there were and how they interacted with each other and the elements. Mention is made of three female performers who represent the king, but I am curious about the rest of the cast. Details about the soundscape that are an integral part of the production would also enhance the texture of the review. The added reference which honoured the commitments of Miss Rondo and Mr Oliver was interesting, but it would be good to know the role they played in the production.
Feedback from Nkgopoleng Moloi
Mpholo’s writing style is very poetic and a pleasure to read. She paints vivid imagery rhythmically; however, at times this obscures meaning.
I enjoyed reading this review, but struggled with the analysis of certain aspects because I wasn’t certain of the meaning behind how things were described. For instance, the play was remarkable because it was outdoors and used real-time elements – do elements in this case mean fire, water, etc? If so, how were they used in the production? It is often more effective to focus on direct language in a review.
A criticism of the text is that the writer makes key observations but does not always follow them up with an explanation of their implications. For instance, audience engagement is briefly touched on; however, it is not analysed or expounded on. I would have liked to see more concrete evidence behind assessments made. With the incredible talent of the actors and costumes created a distinct atmosphere, no further information is given to back these assessments. Similarly, the writer must pay attention to how much time is spent retelling the storyline versus offering a critique of the work. It is okay to pull from large parts of the narrative, but this should be followed by analysis.
How the theme was drawn out in the text was very effective. The writer communicated a key conceptual thread in the work, as well as an interesting methodology. However, this nugget could have been used to offer more analysis of the production.
Reviews can be either very formal or quite loose, but this choice needs to be made deliberately so as not to confuse the reader. If the context of the review is too informal, it can come off as a diary entry instead of a formal analysis. Words such as vibe which are part of the popular lexicon are okay to use, but may add to the effect of informality in a manner that distracts from the critique – particularly in this case, because the author uses the first person and references themselves in relation to the assessment: my choice of front-row seat; having graduated from UFS, I instinctively covered my head, etc. A kind of discipline is necessary regarding what should be included in a review. If a piece of information does not contribute to understanding the idea you’re proposing, then it is not relevant and is best left out.
Overall, the text can benefit from a more rigorous and clearer outline of the structure, and placing careful attention on the key points of analysis that the writer wishes to communicate.
Mentor feedback (version 1)