The deadline for applications is 29th May, so you have to get your skates on. But in case you’ve missed it, here is the job description. We’ve annotated it in the interests of clarity:
We are looking for a top-quality addition to our prestigious Theatre section (“you know – the one that’s tucked towards the back in between the sports section that no-one ever reads and the telly section which we confer with an aura of respectability by using a slightly self-referential title ‘Time In’ because we think watching the telly is a bit common and sad and not at all in tune with our values of engaging with the London scene. But look! It’s all in alphabetical order when you think about it. Isn’t that clever? It goes: Around Town, Art, Books, Comedy… Do you see? Well, OK, yes the ‘Consume’ and ‘Food & Drink’ sections” do come between Theatre and Time In but we’ve given them their own inner covers so they don’t count. You see – we’ve thought of everything! We really are frightfully smart.”).
The successful candidate (“will be incredibly privileged, really, so you will have to be really, really nice”) will have at least two years’ journalistic experience (“We do insist that you recognise that theatre criticism is a branch of proper journalism; it certainly isn’t a trivial occupation. Art is really important, you see, because it enriches people’s dreary lives – the lives of people who don’t work for a really major listings magazine and sadly a surprising number of people find themselves in this trap.”) and a keen interest in and knowledge of all aspects of theatre in London, from big-budget West End musicals to the smallest productions on the Fringe (“We mention that because you will be seeing a lot of the things that fall into the latter category because Jane Edwardes – isn’t that second “E” in her name just so distinctive; she’s a marvel! – gets to choose the good stuff because she is the really important Time Out reviewer and the only one that anyone has ever heard of. Also, you have to understand that she gets to do all the interesting interviews and features on the whole”). As well as writing lively (“that’s an adjective. It conjures up ideas of people reading things you write and feeling perky as a result. How cool is that?????”) reviews and articles, he/she (“preferably both as that would give us just amazing credibility”) will assist with (“ummm. actually there might be quite a lot of this now we come to think about it; it might be more than assisting, but stay with us”) the compilation of our listings (“which – sorry – are really tedious to do but unfortunately that’s why readers buy the magazine regardless of the emphasis we place on journalism which is our true and noble calling – do you remember how we mentioned that quite early on actually?”), ensuring that they are accurate (“and this means it will be your fault if they are not because the rest of us find it far too boring to bother with”), informative (“which actually is really, really easy, because the marvellous Jane Edwardes will have seen to that in the original reviews that your main task will be to precis.”) and entertaining (“You see! It’s going to be fun!”). A rigorous approach to proofing is essential (“The buck stops with you. Get it wrong and you are going to be so sacked!!).
And – yet again – not a single mention of the importance of wigs. It’s no wonder that London theatre criticism is in the parlous state that Mr Hytner says it is.
Here’s how to apply.