Back in 2001, Warner Bros received a feature film entitled Artificial intelligence: AI, also known as AI: Artificial Intelligence. (It’s assumed that the latter title was used so movie theater marquees can list that feature as “AI” rather than “Artificial Intelligence”.)
The movie itself was about the creation of a robot sporting the likeness of a young white boy that can show human emotions, and the problems that this “boy” created when a young couple adopted this boy to replace a son they lost. This movie was supposed to be the next feature directed by Stanley Kubrick based upon a short story written by Brain Aldiss entitled Super Toys Last All Summer Long. However, Kubrick died when the feature was getting ready for production. Steven Spielberg stepped in to create the screenplay set for his style in directing, and was released as another science fiction vehicle that was geared to show an emotional affect.
I was invited to attend a screening of this title for press review. When I received the notice from the WB publicity department in the mail before the time that the studios would use electronic means to send these kinds of notices to those on their mailing list, they listed the title as AI: Artificial Intelligence. At first, I read the title as A1: Artificial Intelligence. Of course, the name “A1” means one of two things. It means that this is a description of something that is at its peak (“A1” representing the first letter of the alphabet and as “number one”, versus something at the bottom of the heap as in “Z26”), or it described a brand name for steak sauce with a spicy flavor that was more liquid in form than the type of sauce offered by Heinz that ran more like its ketchup.
At first, I wasn’t too keen on seeing this movie as I was partial to sci-fi features, as well as the fact that Spielberg was attached to the movie as I found his film making as a bit over-the-top. I didn’t even like Kubrick’s previous movie Eyes Wide Shut, released by the same studio two years before. I decided to go since I could hack out another review for this news service, and the fact that I didn’t have anything else to do on the day and time of the screening.
When I showed up to the screen room location (It was in a dedicated screening room that could be rented for the evening rather than at a regular movie theater such as the old Avco Theater, a multiplex once located on Wilshire Blvd. In Westwood), the folks at WB eventually overbooked the theater. They couldn’t find a seat for me and the person I was with at the time. I was told that they would host another screening sometime soon and would let me know about it once that’s scheduled. So I walked away, never having a chance to see that flick and thus, no review to write. I never received any other notice for another screening that the woman from the Warner Bros. PR department said I would get! And it was just as well I didn’t see the film as I later learned that it wasn’t very good for what it was supposed to be!
I can see why the folks at WB rearranged the wording for this movie. It was known to the public at large what artificial intelligence was all about. (Robots mostly, but other forms of machinery and computer-based programming that acted like a human were behind this form of creation and “life”.) But its moniker “AI” wasn’t as known, if at all! Perhaps it was part of the lingo used to those within that kind of industry and its related connections. But for the most part, “AI” could be mistaken for “A1”, the same way that I saw it.
But that was back some twenty plus years ago. At that time, this form of robotics was more science fiction than science fact. Over time, robotics had been created in the same style it was depicted in sci-fi features of yore. They either worked with humans, or were working against them! But AI creating conversations through written and verbal means were at its infancy. There were reports in such publications as Popular Science and other sources that perhaps one day, it was quite possible to have a conversation with a robotic figure only to have that figure reply back in the same way that a real human being could.
Within the past year, it appears that “AI” is indeed a reality. If one scrolls through the media portals out there, there have been reports that many software companies are creating methods of communications that are based on AI. Many of these methods are in the form of “chat boxes”, a place found on a website where the user can type in a message seeking some information and having the “person” on the other end of the chat reply through the input from the human user. AI has even gone beyond chat boxes lately. A few newspapers, even the ones that do not use “paper” as their prime medium, has created news articles with AI based robots, or “bots” instead of a human journalist writing the same news story.
There are other factors that AI is the given choice, from the creation of new and tested(?) food recipes to writing songs using music with desired musical tones with lyrics that almost make sense. But from the AI formatted songs that this writer heard, they do need a bit of work!
These methods of AI do open ideals where these robotic sources hold a sense of intelligence to work along humans to get their jobs done. The notion of robots taking over to replace humans is always a factor to resolve for many reasons. Perhaps the most obvious reason is costs. One doesn’t have to give an AI source a salary, as well as offering health benefits and a 401K option plan. It could do the work as a human once did while working 24/7/365 on the same pay scale. No overtime or even bathroom breaks! It these robots do need to “go”, there are other methods that they can do such a deed. But this is all besides the point!
And thanks to technology that strives upon the rule of “smaller faster cheaper”, methods of AI can indeed take over. This is more true to jobs that could be quite dangerous to a human, such as search-and-rescue teams looking for those lost in the woods or stuck upon a mountain top, or on jobs that require a bomb being deactivated. Those operations can work well without a human risking a life. But for tasks that could be performed by a real person but can be taken over through AI? Those are the issues that need pondering upon.
But time, tide, and technology are the factors here. It will be a long time (if at all) when AI will work along with the human race. So when it comes to doing a task that is indeed “A1”, leave it to a real person to get the job done. That’s the real “secret sauce”!
City Garage theater presents Stephen Greenblatt & Charles L Mee’s CARDENIO, a comical play about a group of friends attending a wedding in Italy while they go through a test of love, and attending a “premier” production of a newly found work that may have been written by The Bard himself.
The setting is the region of Umbria, located in the center of Italy. A group of Americans from the New York region are gathered to witness the wedding of Anselmo (Anthony Sannazzaro) and Camilla (Devin Davis-Lorton). After the ceremony, Anselmo speaks to his best friend and best man Will (Gifford Irvine) stating that he isn’t sure if his now wife actually loves and desires him. So he asks Will to make an attempt to seduce her. If she takes on Will, then Cardenio really doesn’t love Anselmo. Before that “test” is executed, there’s others in the wedding party to deal with, consisting of Edmund (Jason Pereira), Sally (Angela Beyer), Doris (Kat Johnston), Simonetta (Loosema Hakverdian), as well as Anselmo’s parents Luisa (Martha Duncan) and Alfred (Bo Roberts). As part of the reception, Lucia suggests that they perform a play that was once lost, then found, then lost, and then found again that was supposedly written by one of the world’s greatest playwrights, William Shakespeare. The play is called “Cardenio”, yet only fragments have survived over the many centuries. But there’s enough of the material where a few lines can be read from the scripts they provide. But there is more to this story where others in the wedding party take this test to discover who may fall in love for whom. It’s a challenge that can lead toward bliss or another tale of love and devotion–with laughs throughout.
This play that was actually written (for real) by Shakespearian scholar Stephen Greenblatt and playwright Charles L Mee takes upon the idea of this Shakespearian piece that was first composed in the early 1600s as attributed to W.S. and John Fletcher who served as a co-author. The original piece was based upon the idea found in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. (The seduction parts of the storyline anyway!) However, the original manuscript was “found” during the 18th century and re-written by Lewis Theobald and later retitled as The Double Falsehood. To make things more complicated, that original manuscript that Lewis “found” was destroyed in a theater fire in the early 1800s.
Although the original Cardenio no longer exists, this version as seen at City Garage is a comic farce that consists of a group of friends spending the time in Italy’s wine country attending a wedding and testing their devotion to each other, ending with a load of comical settings. The cast of characters appearing in this program perform their roles with high paced wit and slapstick comedy. The pacing of the said performers never let the action fall into a drag, even when two characters (man and woman of course) are discussing their “tests”, passing them all with flying colors! All of this is thanks to Frederique Michel’s stage direction. She also choreographed all the dance scenes as well as the wedding group going through the motives that celebrate the bride and groom, in addition to the notions of what The Bard wrote about–or not! What presented, let alone performed! The original piece only consists of a few of the characters reading off lines (as a cold audition) with scripts in hand! So this play is more akin to a group of friends at a wedding, leaving the work of Willy S. as an afterthought.
In addition to the cast that also features Troy Dunn, Andy Kallok and Natasha St. Clair Johnson as “Susana”, there’s the visuals as seen on stage. Charles Duncombe’s set and lighting design shows that the backdrop is Italy, but to its right sized minimum. And Josephine Poinsot’s costuming has everyone at their finest during the first act (post wedding), and in more of a casual vibe in the second act. (Around the time of the testing!)
It’s been stated that one should brush up their Shakespeare before one take a performance of The Bard’s time tested classics. For this play as written by Greenblatt and Mee, it’s best to brush up on spending an evening (or afternoon) experiencing a very amusing and witty play that is easy to understand as it’s spoken in contemporary English, with plenty of humorous scenes to boot! And if one day where the entire script of Cardenio is found, one can guess that City Garage, or any other finer theater out there, will have that work grace the stages again. Until then, just enjoy this piece and have a great laugh or two in the process!
CARDENIO, presented by and performs at City Garage, 2525 Michigan Avenue (Building 11), Santa Monica, until March 26th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM. Special question and answer session with the cast and crew takes place following the Sunday, March 19th performance.
For ticket reservations and for more information, Call (310) 453-9939, or via online at http://www.CityGarage.org
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2023 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!