Technology Plays -- an Experiment Between Humans and Technology
Author William Kennedy and Screenwriter Richard Dresser Featured
Among Technology Plays to Run Through December
Heidi Weber (518) 437-4980
N.Y. (Dec. 3, 2003) – The University at Albany today extended
the run of a series of six Technology Plays that illuminate
the relationship between humans and technology. The experimental
form of theatre, which is presented in partnership with the
Capital Repertory Theatre and is sponsored by Apple Computer
Inc., encourages the audience to interact with various forms
of technology, including computers, intercoms and ATMs and
features works by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and UAlbany
Professor William Kennedy and international playwright and
screenwriter Richard Dresser ("The Education of Max Bickford").
five- to seven-minute plays are "experienced" by
one viewer at a time, who interacts with the information technology
programmed for each play. Staged in “viewing modules,” each
installation is approximately seven cubic feet and features
a different form of communication, including e-mail, cell
phone, call waiting, instant messaging, Power Point presentations
and video streaming. Each booth consists of more than 200
parts and includes ventilation and electrical systems as well
as internet connection.
students, administrators, programmers, theatre people, technology
experts and creative artists, have worked together for the
last six months to produce a unique blend of cutting-edge
cyber-theatre, social commentary and high-tech comedy,"
said Mary Valentis, a UAlbany faculty member and director
Technology Plays Project unites UAlbany with the Capital Repertory
Theatre, one of the region's preeminent theatre companies,
to explore the complex relations between humans and machines.
The project evolved from UAlbany's HumaniTech Project, an
interdisciplinary initiative aimed at revitalizing the humanities
in an age of rapid scientific and technological advancement
and raising philosophical questions about how technology is
play, "In the System," consists of digital video
streaming on six screens with images that coordinate from
one monitor. The main story is presented on video PC, telephone,
television and screens that show larger images from within
the story line. With classic Kennedy panache, the play recreates
the tumultuous events that lead to a highly publicized crime,
in which two twenty-eight year-olds hack into the on-line
racing system to fix bets and become millionaires.
read of some horse-race gamblers who actually beat the system
for more than three million dollars, and did it by technological
wizardry," said Kennedy. "That was an inspiration
for my play, which is a love story between a man, a woman,
another man, several machines, faith, hope, fate, a deer and
a dog. It is a very sad story but it means to be a comedy.
It is called ‘In the System’ and is coming soon to a machine
"Greetings from the Home Office," Dresser creates
a wild roller coaster ride into the world of corporate intrigue.
All technological aspects of the play are interactive and
are programmed to coordinate throughout the play including
a PC and keyboard with e-mail read with a computerized voice,
a phone with an answering machine and an intercom.
Dresser said, "As a writer
I'm always looking for new and unsettling ways of touching
an audience. The prospect of writing a play with no actors
to be experienced by a single person was irresistible. In
'Greetings from the Home Office' I wanted to plunge an unsuspecting
individual into the awkwardness, false cheer and ethical complexity
of one's first day of work at a major corporation."
Four other plays were selected
through a competition of Capital Region writers and include
recent UAlbany graduate, Daniel Whalen ’02, whose play, "Beyond
the Firewall," is his first professionally produced play.
Other winners include Daniel Ho ("1+1 = 0"), who
received his Masters in Theater from UAlbany, Stacy (Anastasia)
Orsini ("parse.a.PERSON") and Malcolm Messersmith
The $70,000 Technology Plays
Project was funded in part by a grant from the Woodrow Wilson
National Fellowship Foundation’s “Imagining America” Public
Scholarship Grants Program, Apple Computer Inc., the Beatrice
and Robert Herman Foundation and UAlbany's Office of the Vice
President for Academic Affairs and the Office of the Vice
President for Research. The project includes a unique partnership
between the University and Apple Computer Inc. which donated
all the computer equipment and software necessary to produce
the interactive plays and also served as a technical resource
for the entire project.
Craig DeVoe, the account executive
for the company's Northeast Higher Education Division said,
"Everyone from Apple Computer has enjoyed the Technology
Plays project immensely. This project is a great example of
how universities, non-profits and major corporations can work
together and partner to achieve common goals."
The Technology Plays are staged
in the University's New Library Atrium through December and
are free and open to the public daily from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The plays will appear in different sites throughout the region
such as Capital Repertory Theatre, the Apple store in Crossgates
Mall, Albany International Airport in 2004.
According to Valentis, in addition
to regional sites, the goal of the project is to install the
Technology Plays in appropriate venues across the country.
For more information about the
Technology Plays or UAlbany's HumaniTech Project, visit www.albany.edu/humanitech
or call (518) 442-4073.