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The Meaning of Life

David Zak discusses Bailiwick Repertory's True Life Tales, adapted from the actual blog entries of Nick, a 19-year-old gay man living in the U.K.

The cast of True Life Tales
Talk about reality theater! The Chicago-based Bailiwick Repertory's latest offering, True Life Tales, is derived from the actual blog entries of Nick, a 19-year-old gay man living in the U.K., who presents his online readers with detailed and graphic accounts of his real-life sexcapades. However, adapter/director David Zak is choosing to play down the sex in his staged version, insisting "A little bit goes a long way."

Zak says he's drawn to Nick's blog because, "You really get a great portrait of him growing up." But is that portrait completely authentic? "The only thing we really have is Nick's word," Zak admits. "Are they really real? That's half the fun of the blog." Still, Zak and his actors -- there are four of them, all portraying the character of Nick -- have been in contact with the "real" Nick for this production. Of their first online encounter with him, Zak recalls, "We were horrified. One of the actors wrote to him and the e-mail came back with both his first and last names. The actor didn't want to know, because now suddenly Nick's a real person."

From that correspondence, Zak learned some things that conflicted with his initial impression of Nick. Still, he says the question is not so much about authenticity, but the subjectivity of language. "We all have different images based on our age and experience," he says. "Language can lead us and make us see stuff in different ways."

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