First Interdisciplinary Conference
“Man and his creations” Human – Theater 21 – 23 OCTOBER 2020 ATHENS
ONLINE CONFERENCE – ATHENS CALL ATHENS
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to start by greeting the honorable participants of this conference, and especially the Greek participants from around the world. I would also like to express my thanks to the AKA President Giorgos Psathas, as well as to the conference organizers, for this excellent initiative.
I hope that the City of Athens will soon become the Cultural Capital of all the Athens in this world and beyond.
In a future world, actors have been replaced by humanoids. Their director and manipulator is an Artificial Intelligent computer called, The Maestro, which directs the performances by constantly interacting between the humanoid actors and the viewers.
The theater, as we knew it, is dead. For many years, actors have ceded the rights of their faces and voices for a significant amount of money to a multinational entertainment company that now manages the theatrical shows worldwide. This new art form that abolished the term “theater” or “drama”, was called “Auto – drama” or “Auto-theater”, which means the automatic theater that operates with specific programming of AI. Technically, humanoid – actors are perfect, but they lack something very – very important: the feeling, the artistic breath and the emotion of creation, elements that only the technically “imperfect” human- actors had in the past.
In his novel written in 1955, the American author Walter M. Miller, Jr. places the above story at the beginning of the 21st century.
The protagonist is a former famous actor who belonged to the so-called “Darfsteller” actors. “Darfsteller” is a German word meaning the emotional actor, the self-directed actor. Darfstellers were the actors who were able to completely identify themselves with the role that they were playing as opposed to the common “Schauspieler” actors who performed their role by using only the technique (methodology), which is, external, without emotion, as it is called in the theatrical language.
The hero of the novel, Ryan Thornier, in an explosion not only from an artistic passion, but mainly from a humanity and an existential justification, the former actor, who now cleans the theater for living, will create the conditions for his reappearance on the theatrical stage, playing together with the humanoids, in a play that once he was triumphed. And from this moment until his majestic departure from the stage, the spectator watches the anguished course of the human – actor who suffers trying to complete his last performance, the last performance of a human being on this planet, the last performance of his world as he knew it, trying to complete his existence and his mission, thus interpreting his existence, in a world that now AI has replaced him.
Miller’s work is perhaps the only text in the history of utopian or dystopian texts that places art at its core, namely the most living art of the arts, the Theater. The other texts we know deal with the delicate balances of society in general. We will mention some of these texts and their authors that we believe Miller was influenced by.
Some of futuristic texts, fantasy literature, science fiction, the utopias of past centuries unfolding in unknown continents, countries and states, such as The Republic of Plato,
The Utopia by Thomas More, the novels of Jules Verne, along with the prophetic texts of H.G.Wells, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell’s landmark work, 1984.
In this novel, one of the most famous dystopias of the last century, the author presents a future controlled by the dominant figure of the Big Brother, with the Party controlling the meanings of words, of history and of the collective memory of the people.
In another novel by Pohl Frederic and Cornbluth M.C. “The space Merchants” written in 1953, reveals a future dominated by advertising companies. The concept of citizen has been replaced by the concept of consumer, Members of Parliament represent not constituencies but companies, inequalities are absolute, the environment is polluted and the commonly accepted proverbs (slogans) are “Political power refines, absolute political power refines absolutely” and” it is better thousand innocent people to suffer than a guilty person to escape “.
Continuing in another dystopian novel “With Folded Hands” by Jack Williamson, robots, having as a main command in their programming to protect humans, establish a benevolent and ruthless dictatorship where happiness is imposed by the punishment of lobotomy.
During the first months of 2020, theaters worldwide were closed due to measures to control the Corona virus pandemic.
Theater suddenly ceased to exist as a form of art. After the initial freeze from the closure of the theaters, cinematic or televised hybrids began to appear in our TV or computer screens. Videotaped or streamlined performances tried to keep or simulate some of the magic atmosphere of the theatrical act. By this, the only thing that was achieved, it was to reinforce the viewer’s desire to see a live performance and not a show through the screen of a mobile phone.
Theater, as a child of democracy, is the act that created the dialogue. Ancient Athens during the Golden Age was the birthplace of the theatrical act based on written poetic texts, organized upon specific aesthetic rules.
From the time of the ancient tragic poets until today, theater has experienced many adventures, it has gone through various fluctuations and changed many faces.
Behind all this, something that has remained unchanged until today and it will remain so,as long as there are people on earth and it continues man’s desire to communicate with his peers through some form of expression, which is not recorded in everyday life; as well as, man’s mood to succumb to the magic world of a piece of art which is sculpted in front of his eyes and that refers directly to the human existence, theater will continue to live.
Theater represents the public discourse. It is the mirror of society which is regenerated in the space of the stage, repeating the experiment of the human adventure. In the world of artistic spectacles such as cinema, television, dance, etc., the main interest of creation is the man who presents an important or an insignificant story of some human beings. Theater in this respect, is the most genuine of all artistic spectacles, as it refers to the dramatic hero who is the man himself, by using the psychosomatic reactions of humans through the actors in real time and in front of real people, the spectators.
According to theater researcher Hara Bakonikola: The theatrical stage gives the spectator the opportunity to turn his or her gaze to any contributor or object or part of the space is wishing at any time. On the contrary, cinematographic camera restricts the viewer’s eye “dictatorially”, forcing it (with the respective point of view chosen by the director, and with the zoom technique – gradual approach or removal of the lens from persons or objects) to see only what the camera, and therefore, the director “sees”.
In the dramatic art, “logos” is the basis and the beginning of its essence. “Logos” which is dressed the human being and it is expressed through the psychosomatic expressions.
The theater concerns with the journey to an inner and invisible human land, where all our thoughts, emotions, feelings, imaginations, reveries, dreams, fantasies, secrets, ambitions, hopes, fears, doubts, perplexities, all our affections, speculations, reside. ponderings, vacuities, uncertainties, all our derives, longings, appetites, sensations, our likes, dislikes, aversions, attractions, loves and hates. All are themselves invisible. They constitute “oneself”. All this are the theater world. Theater explores the invisible, relies on the invisible, as it creates emotions. It is a method of producing emotions, which are experienced by a group of people at the same time. The audience, the spectators.
Next May 2021, in Athens, I will direct a play entitled “The last performance of the world”. A theatrical performance based on the novel Darfsteller by Walter M. Miller, Jr. and adapted as a monologue by me. Nikos Gialelis will be the only Actor. The same show will be able to be performed as well, in English and French, in a way to appeal to more and more spectators, making a world tour. In addition, this story will be shot in a movie in French.
In the research we made for this performance we met Sophia. Sophia is a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based Company Hanson Robotics. The robot’s creator, Dr David Hanson, believes that by 2035 ‘androids will surpass nearly everything that humans can do’.
A new generation of androids will be able to pass University exams, earn Ph.D.s and function with the intelligence levels of an 18 year old human. These advanced machines will go on to start what Dr Hanson calls the ‘Global Robotic Civil Rights Movement’. The movement itself is expected to happen in 2038 and will be used to question the ethical treatment of AI machines within human society.
But it won’t be until the year 2045 that the Global Robotic Civil Rights Movement will have pushed the Western world to recognize androids as living entities, with the US being the first country to grant them full civil rights, including the right to marry both people and other robots.
I do not know if at that time we or our grandchildren will experience the first performance in Epidaurus of an ancient tragedy with humanoids. I also do not know if android (humanoid) people will sit on the spectator seats. Theater lasted for 2500 years, I think it is unlikely that it will die, as no art ever dies. Science fiction does not play the role of a prophet. Its basic technique is to examine the consequences that a scientific discovery or a technological innovation, would have on society and man.
These texts create exercises on paper for the “Tomorrowland” on this planet, they provoque questions that sometimes coincide with reality. The “tomorrow–phobia”, is more than inappropriate and perhaps dangerous in our time. We must stand in front of tomorrow with our minds open to risks and its magic. After all, we will live there. (After all, theatre will survive with its rules and its magic in all utopias or dystopias of the future).