The show creators and developers, Dr. Piotr Mirowski and Dr. Kory Mathewson, are award-winning professional improvisers who explore the use of AI for creativity in the context of improv and of human-machine interaction, and who moonlight as research scientists at DeepMind. The Virtual Director was conceived and built by Boyd Branch, a former Fulbright fellow and a communications and digital media expert who currently directs the Improvisational Media and Performance Lab at the University of Kent, where he is also completing a PhD. The show cast includes Harry Turnbull, Holly Mallett, Julie Flower, Jutta Diessl, Marouen Mraihi, Roel Fox and Sarah Davies.
The company’s shows have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Scientist.
**** review at Binge Fringe and Most Innovative Show Award (Paris Online Fringe 2020): “This is exactly the kind of response that the creative world will have to look towards”
***** review at Phoenix Remix (Brighton Fringe 2019): “If I was introduced to a show like that as a kid, I would have paid more attention to science class.”
**** review (Edmonton Fringe 2018): “Talented meatbags plus absurd robots equals standout Fringe experience.”
“This could be revolutionary” (Broadway Baby, Brighton Fringe 2018).
“I will stick with artificial stupidity” (Colin Mochrie, Edinburgh Fringe 2017).
Could an AI make up a story? Our group of improvisers soon find out, as they collaborate with artificial intelligence.
Improbotics is an immersive improv comedy show that combines robots, virtual reality and an international troupe of theatre actors, comedians and technologists. Some improvisers are controlled by artificial intelligence chatbots: will they pass the Turing Test? The actors are connecting remotely and immersed into a shared online stage controlled by a Virtual Director: will they overcome the Zoom fatigue? Improbotics invites audiences to explore how physically distant actors can communicate and seamlessly perform while controlled by a machine. Our impossible and hilarious challenge relies on absurdism, resourcefulness and human connection.
Improbotics are delighted to come back to Art AI for the third time, after presenting AI improv in 2018 and a theatrical Turing test in 2019. Our Artificial Intelligence Improvisation show, which originated in 2016 as a human and robot duo HumanMachine, has evolved into a large cast show. The have performed over a hundred times, in small pubs to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2017), Edmonton Fringe Festival (2018), improv festivals in Amsterdam (2019), Würzburg (2019), Göteborg (2019), Edinburgh (2020) and Uppsala (2020), and museums.
You can catch up with the performance here – enjoy!
About Tracy Harwood
Tracy is Professor of Digital Culture at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, and co-founder of the Art AI Festival with Luba Elliott, Chris Tyrer (Phoenix) and Jo Tallack (Hammersons Plc). Tracy’s research focuses on technological innovation in professional practices, art, performance, music, games, machinima and the application of emerging technologies in public environments. Through her work, she generates new knowledge that has an impact on everyday creativity, the arts, new technologies, cultural exchange and innovation in social structures. She is director of the university’s Usability Lab, a Trustee of diversity-led performance arts organization, Serendipity, and co-host of an international podcast on the past, present and future of machinima and virtual production called And Now For Something Completely Machinima.