VIDEO: Pulitzer Finalist Jordan Harrison on Artificial Intelligence and MARJORIE PRIME
When Jordan Harrison's MARJORIE PRIME was selected as a 2015 Pulitzer Prize For Drama finalist, it was described by the committee as "a sly and surprising work about technology and artificial intelligence told through images and ideas that resonate."
Preparing for a New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons, Harrison describes his work as being about how computers are getting better at having human qualities.
"And if computers are getting better about being human... what's special about us?"
In MARJORIE PRIME Lois Smith plays a widow who lives with an artificial intelligence recreation of her late husband. In this video, the playwright talks about his inspirations for writing about a premise that may not be science fiction for long.
Playwrights Horizons presents the New York premiere of 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist Marjorie Prime, a new play byJordan Harrison(Maple and Vine, Doris to Darlene at PH; Amazons and Their Men; Kid-Simple; "Orange is the New Black"). Commissioned byPlaywrights Horizons and directed by Obie Award winner Anne Kauffman (Detroit, Maple and Vine, Your Mother's Copy of the Kama Sutra at PH; Belleville; This Wide Night; The Thugs), the play is the third production of the theater company's 2015/2016 Season. Previews began November 20 at 8PM at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater (416 West 42nd Street). The production has an Opening Night set for Monday, December 14 and will play a limited engagement through Sunday, January 3.
The cast of Marjorie Prime features Noah Bean (One Arm, The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, "12 Monkeys," "Nikita," "Damages"), two-time Obie Award winner Lisa Emery (Marvin's Room at PH, Casa Valentina, The Women, Iron, Curtains, The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin), Stephen Root (All My Sons, Office Space, "NewsRadio," "King of the Hill," "True Blood," "24," "Boardwalk Empire") and two-time Tony Award nominee Lois Smith (After the Revolution, 100 Saints You Should Know at PH; Buried Child; The Grapes of Wrath; Annie Baker's recent John; "True Blood").
It's the age of artificial intelligence, and 86-year-old Marjorie (Ms. Smith) -- a jumble of disparate, fading memories -- has a handsome new companion (Mr. Bean) who's programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? In this richly spare, wondrous new play, Jordan Harrison explores the mysteries of human identity and the limits -- if any -- of what technology can replace.
The production features scenic design by Laura Jellinek, costume design by Jessica Pabst, lighting design by Tony Award nominee Ben Stanton and sound design by Daniel Kluger. Production Stage Manager is Vanessa Coakley.
MARJORIE PRIME was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons in association with Theater Masters and its Visionary Playwright Award, and with additional funds provided by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Commissioning Program. Its world premiere was produced by Center Theatre Group at The Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles, CA) in September 2014.