Monday, August 07, 2006

Blogger plays at Edinburgh Festival

Let slip the blogs of war ...

New plays inspired by online diaries include one woman's story of life in strife-torn Iraq

Rob Sharp, arts and media correspondent
Sunday August 6, 2006 The Observer

The traditional assembly of attention seekers, hand-waving thespians and artistic extroverts that annually descend on Edinburgh for a month of theatrical festivities is set to be joined this year by the antics of an unlikely soul-mate - the normally secluded bedroom blogger.

A number of new plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the annual celebration of new theatre, which starts today, are taking inspiration from blogs, the online diaries which bring prominence to anonymous wordsmiths. Blogs have proved game fodder for those writing plays for the Fringe, anxious for new material to inform both jaunty comedies and more hard-hitting alternatives.

'I'd never heard of blogs until a year ago,' the play's director, Oliver Mann, told the BBC. Last year, he and a friend were contacted by an old classmate, who referred them to his online diary. Mann continued: 'He just wrote the most intensely personal stuff about his private life. We became so addicted to it that we were checking it out at work. We started sort of performing it for each other, and that is when I realised that a blog like this would work well as a kind of dramatic monologue.'

Mann's play is joined at the festival by Girl Blog From Iraq: Baghdad Burning, the dramatisation of an Iraqi woman's written experiences of Middle Eastern war. The show's director, Kimberley Kefgen, who is accompanying the show to Edinburgh after a successful run in New York, said her use of the blogging medium in the show was less important than the story she was telling, and added that initially she questioned whether the blog, Riverbend, which is still being written by an anonymous Iraqi, could be successfully transferred to the stage.

The full story from Britain's The Observer is here.

I'm a big fan and regular reader of Baghdad Burning. If you want the view from the street, without the spin from governments or military media centres, want to know what an Iraqi girl sees every day, her thoughts, beautifully and poignantly written, you can reach her blog here.

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