I first met John Roberts about a dozen years ago when he was part of the youth theatre of the Gateway Theatre in Chester. Since then, he has developed into a man with many strings to his bow. He is the Editor of thepublicreviews.com an alternative voice in theatre criticism, giving voices to the people who actually pay for theatre to have their say. He is also Artistic Director of Merseyside based Drawlight Productions and a professional actor.
John also runs JR-PR a newly established theatre PR company. His current clients include Spike Theatre and The National Sweedish Speaking Theatre of Finland (Svenska Teatern). He is also directing a world premier production of Rob Johnstone’s new play ‘The Myth of Escape’ in a co-production by Happy Storm Theatre and Breath Out Theatre which will premier in Manchester in July prior to a national tour.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
The single best thing about what I do is that each day is never the same. Many days feel the same, especially when you spend all day in front of the computer catching up on administration or booking in reviewers for shows or writing press releases, but on the other end of the scale I could be performing in front of 2000 people in a number one venue or a small 50 seat studio in a host of different guises. Being freelance in the arts is like being on a rollercoaster and I can safely say after 12 years working in this capacity that I never want to get off.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
I don’t think you have enough space to list all the people that inspire me in the arts but I have tried to pin down a few people who have inspired me in my many working hats over the last few years.
1) In the PR World I greatly respect Kevin Wilson – who runs Kevin Wilson Public Relations not only has he been an avid supporter in the work that I do with my site Thepublicreviews.com but also as a newbie in theatre PR, he has inadvertently shown me that anything is possible, with dedication and commitment and that shows on his client list with Hollywood A-listers making a beeline for this highly personable individual.
2) Reviewing – as editor of The Public Reviews I often get angry at some of the blinkered and illogical thinking of many of the national critics in the UK but again Mark Shenton who is a highly respected critic has once again been a very vocal supporter of what our site aims to do, he is also an impassioned musical theatre fan and anyone that supports new British Musical Theatre always wins in my books.
3) As an Actor/Director two people who work for the same organisation have managed to change the theatrical landscape in my home region and they are Deborah Aydon (Chief Executive) and Gemma Bodinetz (Artistic Director) of the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres, after the closure of both theatres in the late 90’s this dynamic duo helped reform these now thriving venues, each with their unique aims and creative output but always having Liverpool firmly in sight of everything they do, and it is thanks to their savvy programming and commitment to the region that I have seen some of the best theatre of my life on the Everyman & Playhouse stages.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
Everyone always tells you to follow your dreams and your heart, which is true...what these idealists never tell you is how difficult and how much work you have to do to make those dreams a reality. Work rarely falls into your laps, you have to be proactive in this industry in order to succeed.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Usually if you have reached a creative block it means you need a break – my advice is to do something fun, go for a walk, have a drink with friends, sometimes even the smallest of breaks brings the biggest surge in creativity.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
I would like to be anything other than a size 14 – for so long I have not been able to have the choice in what I can buy, so being a size 10 anything would open up a whole new world of shoe experiences.