Tuesday, May 26, 2020
‘Lifestyles of the Richard and Family’ and Lecture Look at Influence of Artificial Intelligence
Company of Fools will stage readings of “The Lifestyles of the Richard and Family” tonight and Saturday afternoon.
Friday, October 18, 2019


Company of Fools will present two staged readings exploring the future of artistic expression in a world of Artificial Intelligence tonight and Saturday.

Then, on Saturday evening, Dr. Christine Harold, rhetoric scholar and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, will discuss the themes in her new book “Things Worth Keeping: The Value of Attachment in a Disposable World.”

  • The Fools will stage a free reading of Roslyn Helper’s “LIFESTYLES OF THE RICHARD AND FAMILY”--at 7tonight—Friday, Oct. 18, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. They will offer an encore performance at Ketchum’s Community Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.

    Dr. Christine Harold will talk about consumerism on Saturday.

    The play was written in partnership with a predictive-text artificial intelligence program called SwiftKey Note to create a theatrical algorithm that asks us to consider the role that AI plays and will play in our cultural lives. It may be the first ever human/AI-written play in history, said Scott Palmer, the producing artistic director of Company of Fools.

    The poetically absurd story starts in a living room and ends in the deepest reaches of the black hole that is the internet as it takes our most familiar truths to a level of strangeness beyond comprehension

    It’s a dinner party drama-turned tech-rave apocalypse that sucks in David, who values his full-time job and gym membership and is having an affair with Clare; Maree, who likes to do her shopping online and has a drinking problem; Jimmy, who has just returned from “the other side,” and Sam, a teen goth who likes welding.

    The play, directed by Jana Arnold, features actors Aly Wepplo, David Janeski, Denise Simone, Chris Henderson and Kagen Albright.

    “In ‘Lifestyles of the Richard and Family,’ we find a bizarre, insightful and sometimes hilarious story that has been written by both a human and an artificial intelligence program,” said Palmer. “As we look across a range of cultural industries, such as pop music, musical theatre, poetry and even novels, we see more instances of AI being involved in the creation of artistic work. The play—and Dr. Harold’s lecture—asks important questions about what artistic expression may look like with the introduction of AI.”

    Harold will facilitate a discussion about the future of artificial intelligence and cultural expression immediately following the company of Fools’ free staged readings.

  • Then, Christine Harold will present a full-fledged lecture, which is free to the public, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.

She suggests that managing the material excesses of our lives as consumers requires us to build upon, rather than reject, our desire for and attraction to objects. And, she says, we can’t reverse ecological devastation by increasing our environmental awareness unless we understand how and why we love the things that imbue our lives with pleasure, meaning and utility.

Harold is one of the country’s foremost thinkers on American culture and consumerism, said Palmer. And her talk comes at a time when magazines and newspapers have been grappling with the reality of AI and its influence on the art world.

Christie’s Auction House, for instance, recently sold its first piece of auctioned AI art for $430,000. The software-generated musical “Beyond the Fence” recently premiered in London. And several academic institutions are offering composers, playwrights, novelists and poets the opportunity to work alongside AI programs.

“Dr. Harold’s work really speaks to this moment in our history,” said Palmer.

Harold teaches courses in rhetorical criticism, rhetorical theory and popular cultural studies at the University of Washington, and her scholarship analyzes the politics of consumerism and opportunities for meaningful political action in a world increasingly defined by the logic of the marketplace. Her forthcoming book looks at the relationship between mass production, product attachment and consumer waste.

Both the play readings and the lecture are free, but a $10 donation will be gratefully accepted. To register, visit www.sunvalleycenter.org or call 208-726-9491.




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