Hello DST – my name is Alexandra Hart and I’m taking over as First Night Editor next academic year!

The first thing you should know about me is that the only thing I love more than theatre, is writing about theatre. There’s just something about being in a darkened auditorium that makes my blood pulse and heart surge. And for me, as for so many others, being able to conceptualise that experience on the page, through a review, is the task which completes the affair. So that’s why I ran to be First Night Editor. 

This year has not been theatre’s friend, nor has Rishi Sunak with his demands that artists retrain. But DST has persevered. What I’ve seen this year has proven the tenacity and flexibility of student theatre, the incredible ingenuity of our companies to adapt to difficult circumstances. Reviews this year have focussed a lot on technology and form as well as talent and direction. Perhaps they’ve even given our tech crews a well-deserved spotlight. But for me, the joy of seeing DST’s determination is equalled only by the joy of seeing the AR light up once more. 

So here’s to many more live performances next year. Nonetheless, I hope we don’t disregard the work that has been done over the last few months. I hope we don’t forget how inclusive online theatre can be, or how widespread its reach is. Next year, I hope to see reviews that truly appreciate the work of the tech teams, that truly question theatre as an art form and a genre. 

And of course I have a few plans for First Night as a platform. I look forward to working more with the local community, to using reviews as an advertising platform, to engaging audiences in the reviewing process. But most of all, I’m looking forward to the explosion of all the theatre that has been bottled up over lockdown. 

Durham won’t know what has hit it. But never fear; First Night will be there to make sure it finds out…