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True tales on Internet gives theatre group their ideas

Students of Nameless Theatre Project practising their roles

he theatre circuit in the Capital is always looking for fresh ideas and stories which often don't come easily. "It's always a challenge to come up with new stories and theatre patterns that will grab the attention of the people. After a good brainstorming session, we usually do research for weeks on a topic to evolve a new story," says Siddhant Sachedeva, a member of the theatre society in Hansraj College.

A group of students from Hofstra University, New York, have found an innovative method to source new stories. They simply browse the Internet for it. Using German playwright and theatre director Bertolt Brecht's theatre techniques, they use personal stories from the net to create their plays.

The Nameless Theatre Project was started by Keith Pinault, a theatre student at the University. "We wanted our shows to reflect the whole of the community we were working with (in this case, the students of Hofstra University) and not just the people who happened to show up. Our audience usually comprise our friends. So, we use our blogs and YouTube to get people whom we don't know or meet every day, to tell stories on how the community issues affect people personally. The Internet is a great way to gather information and it is a very democratic process. We tried to use this to our advantage," says Pinault.

They use the Internet contributor's stories for something they call a Vox Pop Theatre, which is based on the format developed by Brazilian theatre director Augusto Boal, the founder of Theatre for the Oppressed. "It is essentially in a variety-show format and combines the two styles by using in-your-face sketches interspersed with 'forum theatre'. This is a Boal technique that involves an audience's story rehearsed differently. In our case, an Internet contributor's story is used," says Pinault.

Through their project, they want to make the audience as well as the actors feel like a part of the larger community. "We are trying to get people to think of themselves in terms of larger communities, with the hope to see them fit in," says Pinault.

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