Friday 31st March – 9.30pm
Saturday 1st April – 6.00pm
binary2 is a transatlantic improvisation show between two humans and two robots running artificial intelligence. Litterally: one human and one physical robot, in London, communicating via video link with another human and a virtual avatar at the Curious Comedy Theater in Portland, Oregon - a mere eight hour time difference. The two humans, Kory and Piotr, have joined forces in an improvisational duo that incorporates their love of bleeding-edge technology with the purity and beauty of improvised theatre.
The state-of-the-art artificial intelligences behind the robots have been coded by the human creators of the show and have learned to communicate and to act by reading one hundred thousand movie scripts, using a machine learning technique called neural networks. The robots can listen using speech recognition, converse using an AI dialogue system, speak using voice synthesis and finally move as they act. Just like human improvisers!
This show is a world première and the live transatlantic link will be a major challenge. An alternative title could have been “Technical Disaster”, but the two human improvisers will pull this off.
What is creativity? Could a robot have a sense of humour? Could it make you cry or jump from joy? Blurring the boundaries between humans and machines, binary2 will stimulate you emotionally and intellectually.
"Meet the smart robots with artificial irreverence. Stage debug beckons for machines programmed to learn the nuances of improvised comedy..." - The Times.
Albert and A.L.Ex have been selected as "Comedians to Watch in 2017" - The Phoenix Remix.
"... an immensely enjoyable trip to the future [...] with Dr Piotr Mirowski doing live improv comedy with his AI system A.L.Ex. (with hilariously ominous consequences!)...” - Jugular.
Kory Mathewson has been selected to the "Top 40 Under 40" for 2016 by Avenue Edmonton: "... shared his extensive knowledge of improvisation and artificial intelligence not just in his own community, but on a global scale".
Kory was selected as Best in the Fest at the 2015 Vancouver International Improv Festival for TEDxRFT, which also won the Insane Concept of the Year award from 12th night.
"...the implausible comic energy that Kory Mathewson and Donovan Workun bring to their Back To The Future double-act whenever they hit the stage." - Edie Ranvier, Improvathon 2016: The Lost Theatre, London
HumanMachine was born from the revolutionary idea that humans should be able to improvise with anyone, or anything, which includes a machine running artificial intelligence.
Over a year of research and development in the laboratory, and a dozen of experimental concept shows in London, Barcelona and Edmonton have lead to binary2.
The AI robots have been built by Kory Mathewson and Piotr Mirowski, two computer scientists and hackers who have nearly 30 years of combined improvisational experience performing and teaching at festivals around the world.
Piotr, a drama student at LSDA, started improv in France, and continued in New York (as a member of Cherub Improv comedy non-profit, with a hundred shows in hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters) and now London (formerly with Improvable). Kory is a 2013 Canadian Comedy Award winner, and 5 time nominee for his work with Rapid Fire Theatre and Die Nasty: live improvised soap-opera.
Albert - Human, played by Piotr Mirowski (London, England)
A.L.Ex - Robot running Artificial Intelligence (London, England)
Pyggy - Virtual avatar powered by Artificial Intelligence (Portland, Oregon)
Myles - Human, played by Kory Mathewson (Portland, Oregon)
Stephen Davidson - Human at the control center in London, England
Chase Padgett - Human at the control center in Portland, Oregon
What are your top three tips to be a good improviser?:
Be obvious. A good improviser should be like an internet search query auto-completion system: type "i" and it suggests "instagram", type "improv" and it suggests "improv classes london". Search engines listen to cues: text, location, previous queries, and select the most obvious suggestions given that context. In your improv, listen to all the cues: story, characters, reincorporation, body language, emotions... Once you listen, improv becomes obvious and effortless.
Improv can be an exercise in justification. Be ready to improvise with anybody or anything (including an AI). Resolve conflicts, justify and make your scene partner shine. It should be your goal to make anyone you are improvising on stage with look great: this will support the show much more than a good joke.
With our shows heavily relying on tech, preparation is key. However, we also need to embrace failure, which will inevitably happen. Kory's first show with an AI in Edmonton was, in his words, "a disaster". He blogged about it and attracted Piotr's attention in London (who was working on a similar show). A month later, we were collaborating. A year in, binary2 is happening. Not to mention the ideas sprouting from when things fail: failure can be fortunate.