Hamlet. Waiting for Godot. The Glass Menagerie. Texts from Last Night. One of these things is not like the other. Luckily, not everyone thinks the line between live theater and digital low points is all that defined. Allison Goldberg and Jen Jamula are bringing the odds and ends of the Internet onto the stage with their inventive New York-based production Blogologues. The results show how even the silliest question you pose to Yahoo! Answers can turn into art in the right context.
Blogologues takes posts from the Internet verbatim and remixes them into a performance piece. Sometimes the women take fictional bits from established sites and other times they’ll lift stuff from Reddit, Facebook, or more obscure forums. Goldberg says they pull from all over the Internet. “We pull blog posts, Craigslist posts, tweets and more to create our scripts,” she says. The first few shows used whatever material particularly tickled Goldberg and Jamula, but now they give each show a theme and search for monologues and dialogues that fit.
The duo came up with the idea for Blogologues in 2011 and launched their first performance shortly thereafter at Under St. Mark’s, a small theater in the Village. Both women came to New York with intentions to be actresses after graduating from Yale, but also wanted to flex some creative writing muscle. The two were working on a different project when inspiration struck. “One night, we were editing footage, and I showed Jen Colin Nissan’s viral post ‘It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers,'” Goldberg recalls. “I was reading it out loud and said ‘Jen, this is a monologue!’ And she said ‘It’s a blogologue!'”
“We are trying to explore identity and its expression in this crazy new digital world.”
Goldberg went into more detail about how they found raw material for their upcoming show, Blogologues: New York F#cking City (If I can tweet it there, I’ll tweet it anywhere.) “We choose a theme and then we come up with a list of keywords, like cabs, cronuts, bars, etc. Then we basically start searching along those ideas. We try to pull some lesser-known material, and every now and then we’ll do a viral post that people might recognize. We also try to have a mix of voices from across the Internet, and we pull from a variety of sites. We do have a piece from Reddit in this next show… about having sex with pizza dough.”
They write the original authors of the copy for permission to use their words. “So the scripts are all word-for-word from the Internet, then as an ensemble we create characters and scenarios,” Goldberg says. And sometimes the people who wrote the original material end up coming to the show. “It must be surreal for them,” Jamula explains. “They likely never expected to get an email asking permission for their work to be performed onstage… and there it is.”
So far, the results have been excellent, with the duo receiving critical acclaim and shows enjoying high ticket sales. They’re actually looking for additional actors and team members to help them manage the responsibility of churning out unique material, directing it, and want to add some actors to keep the shows running on a monthly basis.
And while the Internet remains a vast treasure trove of seemingly infinite weirdness, spinning it into a structured show is a lot of work. “It takes a very long time to find something both compelling and performable,” Jamula says.
The show is still currently running at Under St. Marks, but a new element is being added to the mix. Goldberg and Jamula also create short videos for the Web and have a steady gig from Time Out New York doing a “tweet of the week,” where they create a Vine video based on their favorite tweet, and they also use Vine to create videos representing the funniest comments for The Guardian. They’re not just remixing Internet content, they’re actively adding to it.
Their project continues to grow, but Goldberg and Jamula don’t mind the grind. Beneath the show’s silly surface, they believe it has something important to say. “Although our show is ultimately comedic,” Goldberg explains, “We are trying to explore identity and its expression in this crazy new digital world.” Aren’t we all?