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Dear West End Producer: ‘What is a theatre influencer (and should we care)?’

West End Producer West End Producer. Photo: Matt Crockett
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An influencer is someone who affects people’s decisions because of their knowledge, authority, position – or simply because of their number of social media followers. So a theatre influencer is someone who has an effect on what people decide to go and see, or what projects they decide to work on. To be honest, the term ‘influencer’ fills me with dread – mainly because most influencers spend their time posing in G-strings and nipple tassels (I tried this and lost thousands of followers).

Back when I was a child (during the First World War), the people who had influence in theatre were critics and powerful producers. But these days, anyone can become an influencer if they put enough time into it.

In about 2010, a plethora of new critics arrived – bloggers. These people are self-appointed ambassadors of theatre, who voice their opinions freely and on a platform that allows anyone to do so. And they are now an important voice in the industry. If a blogger gets more than a few thousand followers, they can call themselves an influencer. But is being an influencer actually worth anything?

Unless you have hundreds of thousands of followers, you don’t make any money by ‘influencing’ – you just have the satisfaction of knowing that some people around the country read your thoughts. But that’s rather nice isn’t it? Knowing that others value what you say and start conversations about your words. The problem is that there are now so many bloggers that the competition even to get read is challenging.

You ask whether we should care about theatre influencers: Well, that’s entirely down to you. If you like someone’s opinion and respect their thoughts, then yes, you probably should. It’s the same with critics, directors and actors you admire: if they offer something you enjoy, then you naturally start following them.

There are all types of theatre influencers now – actors, directors, critics, writers, producers, fans, posers – and this diversity is to be celebrated. For me, it’s the people that offer something different as opposed to just ‘self-love’ I admire.

I can’t stand people who post endless photos of themselves, or simply tweet about everything they’re doing and how big their stagey penis is (put it back in your showpants, dear, I’m sure it’s lovely, but we don’t care). These show-offs are tedious – tweeting about ‘me, me, me’ – and rarely offer anything of interest. And they’re the ones we shouldn’t care about, dear.

Anyway, I digress (I’ve had a bottle of Dom), so I’m going to end this rant with a useful guide for you.

How to become a theatre influencer

Go to press nights wearing loud outfits.

Write well-informed reviews, remembering to spell everyone’s name correctly.

Make sure you have regular content.

Get plenty of selfies with celebs, West End stars, or z-listers – useful for making it look like you know everyone.

Try to get famous theatre people to follow you on Twitter or Instagram. It gives the impression that you’re important.

Pose in hot pants, tight tops, and show merchandise caps.

And finally – use spell check, daer, drea, dear.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer. Read more of West End Producer’s weekly advice columns every Wednesday at thestage.co.uk/author/westendproducer

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