We’re really glad to welcome you to our Theatre Bubble Writing Team – you should have been sent an email with your new login and password details for the Theatre Bubble site (please check your spam filter if nothing has arrive). Once you sign in for the first time please do change your password to something personal, add as much information as you like to your profile and upload a profile image to sit along side our byline. If you have any problems logging in please do drop us a line – firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are a few quick pointers to get you started – please don’t be put off by the amount of information – once you’ve worked through the first time it really is quite simple. Click on the link below to jump to that section:
Privacy and GDPR
First the serious bit – Theatre Bubble is a publicly facing website. You should never upload, or publish any material containing personal information which you don’t have explicit permission to put in the public domain. The most common private information we deal with are the email addresses and phone numbers of press contacts and PR’s. Never include these in your articles or reviews, or upload contacts lists to the back-end of the site. Even if you think you haven’t published it, these documents can still be found via public searches. If we are found to have breached our duty to protect private information we can be fined up to 4% of our turnover or 20 million Euros, whichever is higher. So it is a very serious matter – put simply, if you don’t have express permission to upload or share personal information, don’t.
How to post an Article or Review
Theatre Bubble is powered by Word Press – a really simple to use content management and publishing platform. If you’ve never used wordpress here’s a guide – https://wordpress.org/support/article/writing-posts/ – or there are plenty of you tube tutorials available if you search ‘word press post blog‘. And if all else fails please don’t hesitate to drop us an email and we’ll be able to help.
General Style Guide
Theatre Bubble is aimed at an informed industry audience. So when writing anything for Theatre Bubble please feel free to assume a certain level of knowledge and understanding from the readership. That being said the site should still be accessible – so please do try to keep content enjoyable to read.
We have very few house styles. If in doubt follow The Guardian Style Guide otherwise:
1) Show titles are Capitalised and italicised never placed in ‘quote marks’ or written in FULL CAPS
2) When quoting direct speech use double “speech marks”, when quoting the written word such as reviews use ‘single quotations’
3) Always try to include at least one image in the body of your post. For reviews place the image below the second paragraph full width. For blogs and news place the image at the very top of the post, full width.
Titles and Secondary Titles
When you look at the home page of the website you’ll notice our titles are split in half eg:
EdFringe2019 / Total Theatre Awards Announce Shortlist for 2019 Awards
The first part of the title is (slightly confusingly) called the ‘secondary title’ which lets the reader know roughly what the article is or is about, while the main title tells them the specifics. In general keep the secondary title as short as possible, and if in doubt just use the category – eg: News, Review, Interview etc. The site will automatically add the trailing / so you don’t need to include it.
Featured images must be a minimum of 800px x 500px in dimension. On Mac you can find out the dimensions of an image by ctrl clicking on the image and then clicking ‘get info’. On a PC right click the image and then select properties.
For reviews you should request a selection of publicity images, the credits and the ticket information when you request your review tickets. If the image you’re sent is too small simply ask the company to supply a larger one. All of these details can be added and saved into a ‘draft’ review before you see the show, so they’re already there when you come to write it.
If the image you have is too small you can search for larger sizes of the image on google. Go to https://images.google.com/ click the camera icon to ‘search by image’ and then upload the version you have. Google will then search the internet for identical copies of your image and display their sizes for you underneath.
If you can’t find the image you want at the correct size – you can contact the company/PR and ask them to send you one that is, or if this isn’t possible you’ll need to find a different image. Uploading an image which is too small can break the layout of the site so you’ll just get an error message.
Please do credit all images and make sure you have the permission of the copyright holder to reproduce the image.
Categories, Tags and SEO/Keywords
So you’ve gone to all the trouble of writing a great post – the important thing now is that people can find it. Both search engines like google, and the internal search function on the website, rely on categories, tags and keywords to find relevant articles.
This is called ‘taxonomy’ and it’s basically about how information is labelled and stored. Don’t overthink it – it really isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Imagine someone goes on line and they want to find something so they type a search into Google. Google then need to match those search words up with the content on the internet to give them the most appropriate results. If someone searches: Hamlet review Shakespeare’s Globe Google will go through it’s index and see which pages are categorised/tagged with ‘Shakespeare’, ‘Globe’, and then rank their relevance based on how many times those words are used in the text on the page – such as title, meta description and body of the article. Pages which are focussed on a few terms score more highly than pages that try to be a jack’s of all trades – so it’s key to keep things focused and remember that less is more!
Theatre Bubble uses two levels of taxonomy first the highest level are Categories and then Tags:
These are: Reviews, News, Spotlight, Blogs, Interviews, Opinions, Guides
These are the most important labels you give your articles. You should only have one category per post.
You can have up to 4 tags per article or review – once again less is more. The purpose of the tag is to highlight the main content / people / places mentioned in the post. Think about what people might search for who would want to read your article:
Author / Lead Actor / Director
City or Festival (if review) – (eg London, Manchester, Edinburgh Fringe 2018 etc)
Issue / Campaign – (eg Low Pay / No Pay, Crowdfunding etc)
Theatrical Style – (eg Dance, Physical Theatre, Mime etc. Never just Theatre)
Choose whichever 4 you think are most important for people searching. For reviews always include the venue and city. Please don’t duplicate a tag that repeats a catagory eg tagging something with ‘Review’ when you’ve already given it the category ‘Review’ – the point of the tags are to add additional information to the categories.
SEO & Keyword phrase:
Tags and categories tell search engines what the subject of the article is – but the actual text of the article is what’s used to determine how relevant it is.
We use a plugin called Yoast that lets you define the key phrase you think people will use to search for your article, and then guides you in how to optimise the article so it will appear in their search results. If in doubt:
- Pick the show title and venue – for example if you were reviewing Tosca at the ENO, then ‘Tosca at the ENO’ is a safe bet.
- If your word or phrase gives you an ‘orange’ or ‘red’ response from Yoast (which operates under a traffic light system) then please edit your post to repeat that word more in your text so you receive a green score – it is especially important to include this key phrase in the title and your opening paragraph.
Once you have your key phrase, you will have to specify a Snippet (also referred to as a Meta Description) which is around 150 characters long. Yoast will tell you if your Snippet is either too short (orange) or too long (red). Whatever you write here, please do make sure the Snippet contains the key phrase.
We will have sent you a link to the review request spreadsheet when you signed up. If you’ve lost it just email email@example.com. At the top of the spreadsheet you’ll find a instructions on how to book tickets.
Review House Style
In general keep it positive – the function of the site is to be useful to theatre makers – even if you really didn’t like the show there should still be something in your review that everyone involved could take away to encourage them and help them improve their next work. If there was nothing redeemable about the show write it up as an opinion piece and treat it as a work in progress rather than a review.
- Title – Please use the following format: Show Name at Theatre Name. So if you were reviewing a production of Henry V at the Globe the title would read: Henry V at The Globe
- Please add a full width image to your review after the second paragraph
- Please including listing and credits at the end of your review:
CAST AND CREW
Artistic Director: Jayne Doe
Director: Tom Smith
Assistant Director: John Doe
Production Manager and Lighting Designer: Anot Herperson
Sound Designer: Stillmore People
Producer: Al Mostdone
Cast: Someo Nelse, Youget Theidea, Fin Alone
My Imaginary Show will be continuing its run at A Made Up Theatre till 31st February at 19:00 every day except Mondays. You can book your tickets from 0979 993 0000 or www.madeuptheatre.com
Review Settings Box- when writing a review please include the following information in the review settings box below the main article:
- Name = TITLE OF SHOW
- Company Name = COMPANY or the THEATRE WHO PRODUCED WORK
- URL = FULL WEB ADDRESS OF SHOW WEBSITE INCLUDING ‘HTTP://’ or ‘HTTPS://’ eg: http://www.fingerinthepie.com
- Price = SHOW PRICE eg £15/12 Concessions
- Review Summary = SINGLE LINE SUMMING UP YOUR REVIEW
- Select Rating (Out of 5) 5 = Excellent, 4 = Good, 3 = Average, 2 = poor, 1= very poor
Love them or loathe them star ratings are a corner stone of the current theatre reviews. Please follow the guide below when deciding how many stars to give:
1 Star – The show is offensive, insulting or feels like it has deceived audiences and given them a horrible theatrical experience (pretty much self explanatory, I think we’ve only given one 1 star in the last twelve months)
2 Star – Bear in mind a 2 star review can still be doing 40% right. You should never feel bad about giving 2 stars – audiences need to know, as do the performers themselves. Feedback is key. For these shows, despite the good in them there are simply too many shortcomings to make the show enjoyable or funny.
3 Star – This is where the majority of shows should lie. A 3 star show means a solid theatrical experience – a good night out. You can enjoy a 3 star show, you can learn from a 3 star show. It’s doing more things right than it isn’t – there’s just a missing piece of the puzzle they’ve yet to find that would make it a great show.
4 Star – This is when a show really starts to impress – it teaches you something you’ve never realised, or blown you away theatrically and left you exiting the theatre itching to see it all over again. This is an exceptionally good show you would recommend everyone should see.
5 Stars – This is a perfect piece of theatre: a show that you feel has changed your life or your idea of what theatre is and can do. Every beat, every second, was perfect, you would change nothing. It is a show you will remember and talk about for decades to come. 5 star shows are a rarity, if you find yourself wanting to give out more than one five star review in 100 you should seriously question it. Theatrical perfection is very hard to reach.
Other Articles, News or Blogs
Please feel free to publish any other content you like to Theatre Bubble. As long as it is about theatre and is helpful and relevant to other theatre makers we want to read it. Again all we ask is that you keep it positive. The site is there to help, support and encourage theatre makers. That’s not to say you can’t post contentious or challenging points of view, indeed we encourage it, but please don’t publish anything which could in anyway hurt or harm any theatre makers, or their careers.
If the piece is factual please select the category ‘News’, if it is opinion based please select ‘Opinion’ – once again please don’t create any new categories – lets keep it simple! If in doubt just submit without a category and our editors can assign one they think fits best.
There’s no point in writing your article if no one reads it! So make sure you let people know when it goes live. The most recent five articles will be automatically emailed out to our daily and weekly newsletters (if you haven’t already sign up via the box at the bottom of this page) – but we’ve found that around two thirds of all hits to Theatre Bubble come from social media – so do post links to your facebook page and tweet the link making sure you @ anyone involved and @theatrebubble so we can re-tweet for you.