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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Blogs in focus at Festival Fringe
By Clark Boyd
Technology correspondent, The World

Blog play cast
The cast act out the content of real-life blogs

Blogs are taking centre stage at this year's Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, with three different productions tapping into the world of online writers.

One of them, Bloggers: Real Internet Diaries, is based entirely on British blogs.

"I'd never heard of blogs until a year ago," says the play's director, Oliver Mann, who worked until recently as a television producer in London.

Last year, he and a friend heard from an old classmate, who told them to check out his blog.

"He just wrote the most intensely personal stuff about his private life," Mr Mann says. "We became so addicted to it that we were checking it out at work."

That need to confess is still very much with us. Who we confess to is a very different matter
Sam Raven, blogger

"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, in an intimate stage venue."

Mr Mann hatched the idea of creating a play from British blogs, and staging it at the Fringe.

The director scoured hundreds of blogs. There was, he admits, plenty of dross. But he did manage to find some dramatic, even racy, stories.

"I was really taken aback by the quality of the writing," he says. "I came across stories that were titillating and interesting, but that also had real substance to them. People expressed themselves really beautifully.

When Mr Mann contacted the bloggers he liked, he promised not to change a single word they had written. He also promised to protect their identities by changing names and locations.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The whole atmosphere is electric and must be experienced at least once.
CP, Nottingham

Ten bloggers agreed to let him use their work.

In the play, the director weaves together a number of strange narratives, including a mother of three discussing her nymphomania, and a young man in the midst of a horrible, endless break-up with his girlfriend.

Then there's a character named Eva, who is agoraphobic and works for a sex chat-line.

With blogging, you are your own editor, you can write whatever you like, and you can get immediate feedback - that is the beauty of it
Sam Raven, blogger

"My callers are the only human contact I have during the day. I don't feel how lonely I am sometimes, because I have work to do. But when I stop to look around, that's when it bites," writes Eva.

Given the sensitive and personal nature of the material, it is not surprising that most of the online writers featured in Bloggers: Real Internet Diaries chose to remain anonymous.

But one blogger, Sam Raven, is not afraid to have his real name used.

Mr Raven blogs about what he calls his "neurotic" family, and how much they get on his nerves. He says it's a story he needs to get off his chest.

"Previously, one would confess one's apparent sins to the local wise man, or the priest. These days, one confesses to the community at large, the blogosphere," says Mr Raven.

"That need to confess is still very much with us. Who we confess to is a very different matter.

"With blogging, you are your own editor. You can write whatever you like, and you can get immediate feedback. That is the beauty of it."

Frontline blog

Mr Raven, who is producing the new production, never thought his family would find out about his blog.

But with all the ensuing publicity, Mr Raven's family now knows he's called them "lunatic" and "insane". Still, he says they plan to attend the performance in Edinburgh.

"In reality, I hope they take it with a pinch of salt, and say, 'at least he's done something with his life'," says Mr Raven, with a smile.

Bloggers: Real Internet Diaries isn't the only Fringe offering tapping into blogs this year.

There will also be a dramatisation of Baghdad Burning, which features one young Iraqi girl's blog about the current conflict in her country.

It may seem a far cry from Mr Mann's production, but the director disagrees.

In both cases, he says, it is the drama born of ordinary people writing about their everyday lives.


SEE ALSO
The arts go on show in Edinburgh
28 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Perrier ends Edinburgh comedy tie
14 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
Religion at the heart of Fringe
08 Jun 06 |  Entertainment

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