A Piece of Work OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    December 18, 2013
    Closing:
    December 21, 2013

    Theater: BAM Fishman Space / 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11217

    Synopsis: 

    To sleep. To dream. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we confront the most fundamental questions of our humanity. But what exactly do we confront when the play is shuffled, reordered, and rewritten by a computer? In this daring marriage of live acting and artificial intelligence, Obie Award-winning director Annie Dorsen delivers a provocative parsing of Shakespeare’s work. Based on a sophisticated algorithm that generates a new version of the play nightly—words, visuals, lighting, music, and all—A Piece of Work features one actor, alternating between Obie winner Scott Shepherd (Elevator Repair Service’s Gatz, The Wooster Group’s Hamlet) and theater legend Joan MacIntosh, a looming computer screen, and a chorus of synthesized voices channeling this uncanny text, refashioned in the automated image of our digital times.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF A Piece of Work

    There Be Madness in This Method

    Charles Isherwood

    December 19, 2013: 'To be and not to be.' That was not exactly the question, last time I checked. But that errant conjunction is not the result of a slip of the actor’s tongue. In A Piece of Work, a peculiar puckish riff on Hamlet conceived and directed by Annie Dorsen, the text of Shakespeare’s play has been run through a series of computer algorithms, turning a canonical work of literature into a scrambled series of minimalist word sculptures. In the process, we in the audience are amusingly (or uncomfortably) restored to the state of excited disorientation we probably first felt when encountering the exotic syntax and language of Shakespeare.

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