The 12 Techniques of Newspaper Theatre
Newspaper Theatre (NPT) was born as a theatrical manifesto by Arena Theater of Sao Paulo. With the 12 techniques of NPT, a group of actors and non-actors can collectively transform any non-dramatic text (Newspapers, documents, the bible, etc.) into a critical and empathic investigation of the social reality.
Reading the news without any comment or commentary, detached from the original context of the text, thus biases connected with the position of the text are reduced; Already choosing and reading the text out loud makes it into a public and performative event.
In this technique, we add information omitted by the text to give a more “complete” version. This information comes from other sources, research, or knowledge: The leading questions in this stage are what do we know that is not there? What is missing?
Reading two contradictory or linked stories (alternating them) to shed light and add a more in-depth understanding of the text. This reading provides a new layer to the original text and allows for new theatrical possibilities.
When reading (or singing) a text with rhythm, we add a musical commentary, such as samba, tango, or a chant. The text is “filtered” by the new rhythm’s connotations in rhythmical reading, allowing for more critical and empathic reading.
Reading the text while adding parallel actions showing either the context in which the reported events occur to complement or contrast the spoken story with physical activity, thus enhancing the performativity of the text.
The text is improvised on stage to explore/exploit variants and possibilities. It is open to re-playing, suggestions, and even involvement from the audience (like in Forum Theatre). The text can become a jumping board for a completely different story in this technique.
In this technique, “Reading” is the acting of the text/story with facts or scenes that show the event in the context of other historical moments or other countries or social systems. It could be referring to a time and place from the past or the future.
In this technique, the performance of the text is aided or accompanied by reinforcing material, such as audio/visuals, jingles, advertising, or publicity materials. It adds new aesthetical dimensions and possibilities to the performance.
The concretion of the abstract
This technique reveals on-stage what the news often hides or masks beneath clichés, over-used terms, or matter-of-fact reporting. Concepts such as torture, hunger, and unemployment become concrete through theatre and embodiment. It allows for reclaiming the emotional impact of abstracted ideas from the text.
Text out of context
This technique is about performing the text out of the original context; an actor portraying the Prime Minister delivers a speech about austerity while devouring a huge dinner. It unravels the truth behind the words; for example, the PM wants austerity for the people, but not for themself.
Insertion into the actual context
In this technique, we bring the text into the actual context of the problem. For example, an article describing a war is performed by portraying a theatrical battlefield, where the actors are dodging bullets.
In this technique, the characters featured in the text are interviewed on stage, creating an active investigation with the performance audience. The interview aims to make the actors of the text more humanized and complex in their deception of reality.
First published in a Newspaper workshop guidebook by Uri Noy Meir published by Nikolai Kunitston.
Uri Noy Meir has been developing and integrating Newspaper Theatre with Social Presencing Theatre called Unlock the News.