Hello Hi There

Annie Dorsen

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What happens when you place two chatbot programs in conversation? What might they have to say about age-old philosophical questions? In Hello Hi There, Obie Award-winning director and writer Annie Dorsen poses these questions by staging two chatbots as live performers, reflecting on the issues of language, creativity, and political power raised in an infamous television debate between philosopher Michel Foucault and linguist Noam Chomsky in 1971. Every conversation between the chatbots forges a unique path due to their custom-made software, which has been programmed to mimic the nuances of human conversation. The result is an unexpected, uncanny, and humorous meditation on what separates humans from machines.

Emily Berçir Zimmerman

Obie Award-winning director and writer Annie Dorsen works in theater, film, dance, and digital performance. Her most recent work, Hello Hi There, premiered at the Steirischer Herbst festival (Graz), and was presented at Black Box Teater (Oslo), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), and PS122 (New York), among others. She is co-creator and director of the 2008 Broadway musical Passing Strange. Spike Lee has since made a film of her production of the piece, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, was subsequently screened at South by Southwest Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival, and was released theatrically by IFC in 2010 and then broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances. Also in 2010, she collaborated with choreographer Anne Juren on Magical (ImPulsTanz Festival Vienna, Side Step Festival Helsinki, Théâtre de la Cité International Paris, Kampnagel Hamburg, and others) and with Juren and DD Dorvillier on Pièce Sans Paroles (brut Vienna and Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales Seine-Saint-Denis, Paris). In 2009, she created two music theater pieces, Ask Your Mama, a setting of Langston Hughes’ 1962 poem, composed by Laura Karpman and sung by Jessye Norman and The Roots (Carnegie Hall), and ETHEL’s TruckStop, seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. In addition to numerous awards for Passing Strange, Dorsen has received several fellowships, notably the Sir John Gielgud Fellowship from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. She has taught at New York University, Fordham University, and Playwright’s Horizons, and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Hello Hi There
Studio 1—Goodman
February 18, 2012, 8PM
Foucault and Chomsky Debate
Studio Beta
February 18, 2012, 6PM

Concept and direction: Annie Dorsen (US)
Production design: Kate Howard (US)
Systems design: Jeff Gray (US)
Scenography and lighting design: Edward Pierce (Denmark)
Chatbot software design: Robby Garner (US)
Consultation: Nicolas Siepen (Germany) and Berno Odo Polzer (Austria)
Assistance: Stephen Brackett (US)
Technical management: Cyd Cahill
General management: Lisa Schmidt
Production: VierHochDrei

Co-producers: steirischer herbst (Graz), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen), Black Box Teater (Oslo), PS122 (NYC)

Additional production support and residency provided by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer.


EMPAC 2011-2012 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust), and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for support of artist commissions.

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
NEFA - New England Foundation for the Arts
State of the Arts - NYSCA