Mrs Hart – Amateur Theatre Critic

You are going to read a newspaper article about a woman who spent last year as a judge for the British Theatre Awards.
Seven sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A – H the one which fits each gap (9 – 15).
There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use.
Who judges the British Theatre Awards? James Pickard finds out.

Elisabeth Hart went to the theatre in London 55 times last year. She read 55 programmes, saw 55 curtains rise and ate an undisclosed number of ice creams. On top of that, she had to write page after page of notes on each visit. However, she is not a professional theatre critic. She is an ordinary member of the public on the judging panel of this year’s British Theatre Awards.

Mrs Hart was one of four theatre-lovers chosen to judge all new drama productions (excluding musicals) last year. ___(9)___ Mrs Hart thinks this was a good system. ‘It’s important to have amateurs playing a part in the decisions,’ she says. ‘It stops the awards appearing to have been fixed like some others. And if a play wins an award, the public know that it’s been approved by people with no axe to grind.’

Mrs Hart is extremely enthusiastic about the theatre. ‘The year before last I went to over 30 plays,’ she says, ‘and they were a complete mixed bag.’ ___(10)___ It began with an application form left on a foyer shelf by the Society of London Theatre, which organises the awards. She filled it in, added a short theatre review, and was selected from several hundred applicants.

‘They were looking for people with a very wide taste in theatre,’ she explains. ‘I always enjoyed acting in plays when I was young, and as a student in London, I regularly bought cheap standing tickets for West End productions.’ Being a judge was hard work, though. ___(11)___ ‘But I never got sick of it. Even the plays I didn’t like always had some redeeming qualities.’

She could never sit back and relax, though, because she had to make hefty notes on everything. ___(12)___ ‘It wasn’t just the actors we were judging, but also costume design, direction, lighting and script – twelve categories in all. But I still enjoyed it. It felt like an enormous privilege.’

___(13)___ ‘'That didn’t happen at all. It was all very civilised and friendly,’ says Mrs Hart. ‘We were listened to and our votes were all equal.’

Theatre critics, of course, are known for their power to make or break a play. ___(14)___ ‘I wasn’t treated differently at all, although one receptionist did optimistically describe me as looking as if I was keen to enjoy my evening.’

___(15)___ ‘It is bursting with talent on all fronts, from playwriting to direction, and there are plenty of innovative developments in productions. I personally think new writing should be encouraged. But overall, theatre is definitely alive and kicking.’