21.10.2021 Events, Theatre

EUNIC AI Science Café Series: AI & Theatre

Join the fifth event of EUNIC's Science Café Series on AI & Theatre.


The brand new EUNIC AI Science Café Series aims to present current and timely topics alongside the proposals for innovative, bold and inspirational solutions to tackle key issues. The contributors are experts from the EUNIC member states, many of whom represent international teams and their counterparts from the United Kingdom.

Improvisation is the highest form of human intelligence. Would you improvise with a robot?

Over the past decades an increasing number of performing artists and technologists have brought robots to the center stage in their performances. AI has taken roles such as comedy improvisers, storytellers, actors, dancers, and choreographers, disrupting the traditional two-way human actor-human audience interaction. By presenting this talk we try to challenge the idea that live performance is a specifically human activity and explore different forms of human-AI interactions in the theatre. What story does AI tell? What emotions can it generate? Do you think artificial intelligence is able to create an enjoyable theatre script? Can a robot become a playwright? Does the perfect theater evening exist, produced by an autonomous machine?

The talk invites you to learn more about the collaboration between AI and theatre with artists and AI experts Piotr Mirowski (DeepMind, Improbotics), Marcel Karnapke (CyberRäuber) and Rudolf Rosa (THEaiTRE). The virtual event will be chaired by Tracy Harwood, Professor of Digital Culture at the De Montfort University and director of the award-winning Art AI Festival.

The AI SC is organised in collaboration with the Polish Cultural InstituteGoethe Institute and the Czech Centre.

About the speakers:

Tracy Harwood – Moderator

Tracy Harwood is Professor of Digital Culture at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University. She has a management background in practice, with a PhD in negotiation behaviour. She is director of the university’s Usability Lab and director of the award-winning Art AI Festival, which she co-founded in 2018. She directed the first European Machinima Film Festival (2007) (machine cinema/virtual production), is co-author of Pioneers in Machinima (Vernon, 2021) and is co-host of the international podcast, And Now For Something Completely Machinima.

Tracy’s research and work has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, InnovateUK, InternetNZ and Arts Council England. Her work is transdisciplinary, crossing computer science, arts, design, health and marketing disciplines. Current projects relate to the application of emerging technologies to business and consumer contexts, including AI, Internet of Things, VR and AR. She has published in leading marketing and digital creativity journals, including Journal of Services Management, Journal of Service Marketing, Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Leonardo, Digital Creativity and Journal of Visual Culture. She is Area Editor for the European Innovation Alliance’s Endorsed Transactions on Creative Technologies. She has led three InnovateUK Knowledge Transfer Partnerships focusing on building digital business and arts management competences within retail, arts and hospice care sectors.

Piotr Mirowski – Speaker

Piotr Mirowski, a theatre actor and researcher in AI, co-founded HumanMachine and Improbotics, world’s first AI-enabled improv companies. Experimenting with AI for artistic human and machine-based co-creation, Piotr created shows featuring robots and chatbots that have toured internationally, from comedy pubs to international theatre and improv festivals (Edinburgh Fringe, Brighton Fringe, Online Paris Fringe, as well as Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Götebog, Uppsala, Würzburg Festivals) and that featured in the press (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Scientist, Sunday Times, ABC News, Bloomberg, RTE One). Piotr obtained a Diploma in Acting at London School of Dramatic Art (2015-2017) and performed onstage in fringe theatre. In his other life, Piotr works as a Staff Research Scientist at DeepMind. His current areas of focus include navigation-related research, scaling up autonomous agents to real world environments and weather forecasting; he is the author of over 60 papers that have been published in Nature, Genome Biology, Clinical Neurophysiology or at ICLR and NeurIPS. Piotr studied computer science in France (ENSEEIHT, Toulouse) and obtained his PhD in computer science in 2011 at New York University, with a thesis supervised by Prof. Yann LeCun (Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2011).

Marcel Karnapke – Speaker

Marcel Karnapke lives and works in Berlin and is a theatre director, developer, as well as a lecturer and co-founder of the artist collective “CyberRäuber”, which realises new formats and applications for mixed realities in the context of classical theatre, opera and ballet. The focus of his work is on the fusion of advanced technologies with architectures of the human narrative. Marcel’s work covers topics such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the future architecture of narratives as well as archaeology and reality reconstruction.

Marcel is the winner of the 3D Guild Award at the International 3D Summit in Liège, Belgium, and in 2017 won the Halo Award in Gold at VR Days in the category of best 3D VR animated film with “Pitoti Prometheus”, produced at the University of Cambridge, England. He also created several sculptural works that were shown at the Triennale di Milano. The VR work “Memories of Borderline” in collaboration with the Theater Dortmund was also a guest at the Berliner Festspiele. Recent works include the “Cyberballet” at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, the piece “Verirrten sich im Wald” at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, and the theatre work “Prometheus Unbound” at the Landestheater Linz, which is entirely based on artificial intelligence. In 2020, the VR work “Ilios” was one of the XR Social & Environmental Impact finalists. Currently he is working on the second version of a real-time gpt-3 driven theatre piece called “The human being is another”.

Rudolf Rosa – Speaker

Rudolf Rosa is a computational linguist, focusing on automatic generation of texts, multilingual processing, and interpretation of artificial neural networks. Since 2011, he has been doing research at the Institute of formal and applied linguistics at Charles University in Prague, currently at the position of a research associate. Currently, Rudolf is the head of the THEaiTRE research project, which deals with automatically generating theatre play scripts using AI. The project is a collaboration of computational linguists with theatre experts and commemorates 100 years since the premiere of the first theatre play about robots, R.U.R. by Karel Čapek. The project has already produced the first theatre play script, titled “AI: When a Robot Writes a Play”, which was from 90% generated by the THEaiTRobot 1.0 system, based on the OpenAI GPT2 language model. The play premiered in February 2021 through an online broadcast from the theatre and was viewed by thousands of spectators worldwide. Rudolf has also collaborated on numerous national and international grants.

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