To myself, a week ago

14 April 2017

Florence Bell gives some advice to her past self


You have forgotten your toothpaste. Buy some now.

You’re not going to sleep much. As a result of this you will drink too much Pepsi. You will not have time to feel guilty about being a capitalist millennial supporting white appropriative agendas because Pepsi is zestier than Coke.

You’ve never written anything quickly before. You like taking your time on reviews, often weeks, sometimes months, and that isn’t going to happen here. Sometimes you’re going to have to get a review in within hours of seeing a show. What you write isn’t going to be perfect but you’ll just have to deal with it.

Someone will write a poem about you calling you a cunt and you will find it hilarious.

Your posture will be fucked by the end of the week, lol.

When you’re writing in the NOFFice, your laptop screen will be very visible to anyone who walks in. people will stand over your shoulder and read what you’re writing as you’re writing. This is deeply uncomfortable and makes you feel self-conscious. Learn to deal with it. Be complimented that people are interested in your writing process.

Accept now that there are people on the NOFF team with loads more experience than you. They can express things better than you, but you’re (hopefully) going to get better as the week goes on. In your defence, you’re the only first year and the baby of the team.

You will review 14 shows and none of them will be Shakespeare. Before NSDF, you have only ever reviewed 12 shows and five of them were Shakespeare, early modern or Shakespeare-related. You have only ever reviewed two pieces of new writing before and 10 of the 14 shows at NSDF this year are new writing or devised. Ghee Bowman might find the lack of “classics” concerning but it’s good for you because it’s going to introduce you to New Forms.

Writing for press is very different to writing for a website and it will take you a while to realise this. Long paragraphs and Andrew Haydon-style square brackets with italics don’t really work here. This will make you reflect on how your blog posts with long paragraphs read on mobile. You almost exclusively consume other people’s reviews on mobile yet your reviews read best on bigger screens.

You are going to work under two editors who will offer really helpful advice but they will also check up on what you’re doing. If you say you’re going to write something, you’re expected to write it. Not being in charge is going to be really good for you because you’re too much of a fucking maverick.

The fact that the vending machine sells Coke but not Pepsi will grow increasingly more infuriating as the week goes on.

You should have brought some clean clothes with you. You already know this.

You will be scared of coming down really hot and heavy on something you find boring because it feels cruel. You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and you don’t want to feel guilty about hurting other people’s feelings. Some people will advise you to be deliberately provocative. Just try to produce the best written reviews you can in the short time space available.

Don’t be afraid to go to bed before anyone else. Any time after midnight is totally acceptable. You’ve been prescribed an unsafe dose of expensive sleeping pills that you’re now dependent on by a psychiatrist not qualified to deal with your condition. Recovering from insomnia, however mild, isn’t easy and you need to look after yourself. You deserve it.

You will find conversations after shows difficult. You won’t know what to say. You need time to process your opinion which is why you mostly go to the theatre by yourself. You won’t be any better at this by the end of the week.

Your tweets will be so much more aesthetic by the end of this week. Well done.

Make sure to read everyone else’s reviews because a) it’s polite and b) you can learn A LOT from them.

[I just realised that all of the above makes it seem like I didn’t have a lot of fun. But I did. Loved NSDF and can’t wait to come back.]


Send your reviews, thoughts and jokes to: noff@nsdf.org.uk

@noffmag