Artificial Intelligence the future of acting?

13. August, 2021 | Hoa Le

Can you imagine tech nerds on stage? Well we can and we were.  Well, almost – it’s not us on stage, but “Oracle”, our Conversational Agent. Collaborating with Münchner Kammerspiele we developed Oracle for their play under the same name. 

Together with artist Markus Selg, Susan Kennedy, questioned the space of reality on stage. Blurring the boundaries between man and machine, space and time, being and appearing. All you have to do is search for the truth and visits the “Oracle”. However, the “Oracle” does not answer with helpful advice, but answers the questions of its counterpart with cryptic and mysterious wisdom. It’s for the seeker to understand the truth between the lines.

In times of Corona, every environment that is not one’s own home seems strange and surreal. With his walk-in installation, Markus Selg creates another space in the theater that seems to be not of this world. Deutschland Funk states “such a flood of stimuli in which reflection and introspection (…) , is rather prevented than promoted”. The responses of the “Oracle” leave the impression of being “prefabricated”, so that the assumption arise that it is not of importance “what somebody asks.”

“A hermaphrodite between theater and museum, drama and virtual reality.”

Die Deutsche Bühne, Anne Fritsch am 16.06.2020

Christine Dössel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, is more open: “It speaks, it reacts – and irritates.” Drössel describes the “AI Oracle” as “not renitent or incompetent, only sometimes a bit mean”; it constantly learns and grows with the production. The play and above all the stage design are a kind of “single sensory intoxication, an overkill of colors, sounds, video images, voices, signs and references, against the eso kitsch. You try to resist – but hardly you can block yourself “. One must, she writes, “receive beauty and power from it, after an initial resistance against it.”

“It’s a learning AI system which grows wisdom through each question of the visitor and actually responds to them,” as the Nachtkritik observes. After visiting a “BETA version” at the Munich Kammerspiele in mid-June the Night Review detects “It is a nightmarish and infinitely sad world, artists have created. Non-humans look at you from abysmally tired eyes and especially the actors, but also their synthetic counterparts.”

“Oracle” ©BIG PICTURE

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, dares to make a prophecy itself: “In one hundred years from now theater will look very different. Oracle has proven it.” Visitors may not walk out with new insights or clear instructions, but perhaps with this rather modern thought: “The AI learns while the play progresses. The responses improve continuously, being fed by the worldwide web. So the question remains, will Oracle’s predictions become more precise over time?”

More articles on Oracle

Masks On in a Near-Empty Hall: Germany’s Theaters Return (New York Times)
Auf Privilegienabbitte (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
Rückzugsort der Erkenntnis (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
„Wunde R“ und „Oracle“: Doppelpremiere an den Münchner Kammerspielen (SWR2)
Reizüberflutung und weibliche Wunden (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Munich Chamber Games Presents Immersive Theater Experience ORACLE As Live Theater Returns (Broadwayworld)
Der pandemische Kreidekreis (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Nicht von dieser Welt (Die Deutsche Bühne)
Im Moment der größten Liebe (TAZ)
“Wunde R” und “Oracle”: Münchner Kammerspiele legen wieder los (BR24)
Delphi liegt in Oberbayern (nachtkritik)
“Oracle” von Susanne Kennedy in der Kammer 2 (Abendzeitung München)
“Ausgehungert nach der direkten Begegnung” (Der Donaukurier)

Titelbild © Judith Buss Ixchel Mendoza Hernandez