nytheatre.com q&a preview by Will Fulton
August 26, 2012
What is your job on this show?
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I'm only drawn to a piece if in some fundamental way I don't know how to do it and what the final result will look like. I often do devised and adapted work, where my main focus is designing a process by which the piece can be created, rather than trying to replicate a particular vision that I have. While Motherboard is being staged in a more conventional way with an extant script, the challenges of bringing convincing science fiction to life on stage more than fill that role of "how the hell can I do this?"
What was the last show you saw that really excited you, and why?
I loved The Builders Association's adaptation of Susan Sontag's journals at Under the Radar this past winter. Beyond just being a big fan of the source material, I was really taken by the adaptation, particularly through their stunning and dramaturgically necessary use of projection. Like the recent ERS literary trilogy or the Woodruff/Camp "Notes from Underground", I loved the way they started very purely with a text and then used the tools of theater to build a perfectly complementary and esoteric form around it, rather than squeezing the story into a known theatrical structure.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Mostly because I am a huge nerd. I have loved science fiction for my entire life, and so for years I have been thinking about how to do it well on stage. I also fell in love early with the Greek stories, and in recent years have become fascinated with the question of how Myth operates in our contemporary mediasphere. Robots are such a potent modern myth to which we can't seem to stop returning. I think it's a particularly appropriate follow-up to DEATH VALLEY last year, with the zombie and robot apocalypses being a complementary pair of myths: fear of the mind vs fear of the body, that sort of thing. Our 21st century version of the world ending in fire or in ice.
Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
I don't know how much he would like it necessarily, but Thomas Edison would certainly be the most interested because of how much Motherboard is about our relationship to technology. It's a dystopian extension of the wired world that he began (or at least that he most effectively monetized--Tesla is really the mad scientist progenitor of the electric age).
Who are your heroes?
Artistically they include Jim Henson, Woody Allen, and David Foster Wallace. Most topical to this show, I'm quite obsessed with Alan Turing. It's hard to believe that one man could think so many brilliant things and also suffer so much. He was a mind on par with Galileo or Newton. As the father of computing and artificial intelligence he provided the theoretical foundation for our entire modern world, but I'm constantly shocked at how few people know his name. He was also the first person to really practically examine questions of Mind and the boundary between a something and a someone. As AI accelerates in the coming decades we'll face the next in a long line of philosophical revolutions brought on by science that remind us we're not special, and Turing was saying it 70 years ago.