Friday, March 18, 2005

“O, For A Blog of Fire…”

The first play based on a blog hits the boards.

“Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog From Iraq” is not a very good play, but it’s worth your attention for two reasons. It’s the only political drama in New York written from the point of view of an Iraqi who lived through the American invasion, and, for better or worse, it inaugurates an entirely new (and seemingly inevitable) theatrical genre – the blog play.

Melding two chic cultural forms, the documentary drama and the blog, the Six Figures Theater Company has turned the online writings of Riverbend, the pseudonym of a 25-year-old Baghdad woman who has become something of an Internet celebrity, into a dramatically awkward series of readings.

Riverbend is a thoughtful writer whose articulate, even poetic, prose packs an emotional punch while exhibiting a journalist’s eye for detail. She is decidedly antiwar and critical of the Bush administration, but not polemical. Judging from the play, the tone of her writing about the war is one of exasperated disappointment.


While Riverbend has a fascinating voice, this production, adapted by Kimberly I. Kefgen and Loren Ingrid Noveck, never makes the case for her blog as a piece of drama. What is lost is the sense of one singular, idiosyncratic personality, which, of course, is exactly what emerges so vividly from the blog. Instead of building a character, the show includes readings of her words from three women and one man, which adds to the muddled feel. [Jason Zinoman, New York Times]

I’ve been wondering when the first blog-based play would tread the boards, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t be the last attempt at it. But theatre is the only art where you can fail and still succeed.

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.” Henry V, William Shakespeare.