Theatre West presents 'The Orator' - An Exploration of the Online 'Self'

Theatre West presents 'The Orator' - An Exploration of the Online 'Self'

This one act, one actress play is an exploration of issues about identity in social networking culture. Rebecca Newman plays Jenna, a self-help blogger, who increasingly suffers from the divide of her online and offline self.  Her performance is high energy and captivating,  raising relevant and compelling questions about self-presentation in a cyber community.

The set successfully depicts her online interaction: a large screen behind her shows her blog entries, Google searches and conversations. The backdrop shows how our screens have become extensions of our selves. Newman stands in front of the screen narrating her responses, epitomising the emotional human aspect that can be often lost online. Inverting the idea that someone is ‘behind’ a screen by placing her in front it of cleverly questions the way in which people can become dehumanised online, with internet trolls and chat forums often brimming with hateful, scorching judgements of others that simply wouldn’t happen face to face.

The effect of constantly reading the screen behind her left my eyes swimming by the end of the performance. I left craving genuine human interaction rather than screen based entertainment. So whist the technological aspect was slightly brain numbing by the end, this supported the message of the play: to question how the internet has transformed the ways we ‘connect’ to others, and the detrimental affects it can have on our psychology if we are not careful.

Tara Cairns

The Orator is showing at the Acta Theatre tonight at 9pm (Friday 7th October) and tomorrow at 8pm (Saturday 8th October)