Premieres Six Technology Plays -- an Experiment Between Humans
Prize-Winning Author William Kennedy and Screenwriter Richard
Dresser Featured Among Technology Plays to Run Through Dec.
Heidi Weber (518) 437-4980
N.Y. (November 10, 2003) - The University at Albany today
held a premiere for 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.
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
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 ("Chip").
$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.
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
Technology Plays are staged in the University's New Library
Atrium through Nov. 26 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
to Valentis, in addition to regional sites, the goal of the
project is to install the Technology Plays in appropriate
venues across the country.
more information about the Technology Plays or UAlbany's HumaniTech
Project, visit www.albany.edu/humanitech
or call (518) 442-4073.