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Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a neuroscientist works closely with an artificial being to teach him how to become more human and to grow beyond the “uncanny valley” — a term used to describe the discomfort we feel when we see electronic recreations of human beings that are oh-so-close, but just not quite right. A chilling jaunt into the future.
What does it mean to be human? How far will we go to live forever? The Los Angeles premiere of Uncanny Valley, a new play about artificial intelligence written by Thomas Gibbons, directed by caryn desai [sic], and starring Susan Denaker and Jacob Sidney, opens April 21 at International City Theatre. Two low-priced previews take place on April 19 and April 20.
Claire is a neuroscientist who has devoted her entire life to crafting a non-biological being. Her latest attempt, named Julian, starts out as a head without a body. As Julian receives a torso, arms and legs and becomes fully functional, Claire tries to teach him how to become “human.”
The play was inspired by a National Geographic article that featured a photo of a sentient robot named Bina48 created by the LifeNaut Project.
“LifeNaut is investigating the possibility of downloading human consciousness into an artificial body as a means of extending our lifespan,” Gibbons explained in an interview. “Bina is basically a head and shoulders sitting on a table. I was really haunted by that photo.”
According to the playwright, the title “refers to the feeling that people have when they’re confronted with a very realistic robot, a feeling of fascination. But the more realistic the robot becomes, at some point that fascination turns to a kind of revulsion. They’re creeped out, and that effect is called the ‘uncanny valley.’ The play is exploring that moment.”
Thomas Gibbons is playwright-in-residence at InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, which has produced eight of his plays, which have also been seen at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, Mixed Blood Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Actors Express, Florida Stage, Unicorn Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, New Repertory Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre and many others. He is the recipient of seven playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a Roger L. Stevens Award from the Fund for New American Plays, a Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, an NAACP Theatre Award, two Barrymore Awards for outstanding new play, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Permanent Collection was the pilot selection of the National New Play Network's Continued Life of New Plays Fund, and A House With No Walls was a subsequent selection.
Uncanny Valley runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., April 21 through May 7. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 20, both at 8 p.m. Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except for April 21 (opening night) for which tickets are $55 and include a post show reception at Utopia Restaurant. Low-priced tickets to previews are $35. International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 330 East Seaside Way in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.
Presenter / Producer: International City Theatre
Theater > Drama
Event Phone: 562-436-4610
International City Theatre
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach CA 90802
Long Beach & South Bay
Performance Dates: 4/19/2017 - 5/7/2017
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm
Tickets $47 on Thurs and Fri and $49 on Sat and Sun., except for April 21 (Opening Night)which is $55. Previews $35
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