Innovative Silicon Valley Theatre Debuts 5 AI-Created Plays


Rapid Eye Repertory, a Silicon Valley theatre company, is set to launch its debut 2023-24 season featuring five new plays created by its own proprietary AI program, RETina. This groundbreaking move is a unique partnership between tech developers and theatre makers, reflecting the intersection of the latest frontier of text creation and one of the world’s oldest art forms.

The Intersection of Technology and Art

According to Hunt Carbondale, artistic director and lead developer of Rapid Eye Rep, “Theatre is nothing more than words and performance,” which is why he is excited about this experiment at the intersection of AI and theatre. “We think these five new plays, created by our groundbreaking RETina program, showcase an astonishing new dramatic voice that points the way to the future of theatre.”

RETina was developed from language learning code that had previously been designed to write warning labels for hair products. The program spent an afternoon absorbing Western stage literature and began generating plays immediately. Although its initial efforts were variable in quality, subsequent coding incorporated Grotowski, Viewpoints/Suzuki training, and ComedySportz, offsetting these deficiencies.

Exciting New Season of AI-Created Plays

The season will commence in September at Rapid Eye’s newly built Čapek Theatre with Echoes in the Canyon, an unsettling drama about a group of friends who reunite after decades apart and confront their past.
Breaking Bread, a poignant comedy/drama about a family of immigrants from Latin American country who gather in a major Midwestern city in the US, will follow in November.

RETina’s potential to mix and match genres will be showcased by Rapid Eye’s, Mad Lib Carol, which will stage Dickens’s classic Christmas tale in the styles of film noir, Caryl Churchill, and Balinese shadow puppetry.
The first play in 2024 will be The Intersection, a powerful interrogation of race, gender, and class in contemporary America designed to be enacted by one actor and an audience volunteer, randomly selected just before each night’s performance.

The season’s final announced offering, opening in March 2024, is a collaborative improv experiment called Love Language, in which theatregoers will collaborate live via their devices with RETina to mashe up their various prompts, with a troupe of six actors on hand to read the results on the spot.

Bold Experiment in the Pipeline

“We’re working on a play in which not only the script but the design and direction will be created by AI,” he said. “There is still, for the time being, a need for actual human beings to do stage management, and to act in the plays, but our programmers are working on an AI solution for that too.” Carbondale suggested that it could be Rapid Eye’s boldest experiment yet.

The theatre company’s innovative approach to theatre-making is a groundbreaking move that showcases the potential of AI in the creative arts. Rapid Eye’s upcoming season of AI-created plays is set to inspire theatre-makers and audiences alike, creating an exciting new dimension in the art form.