Saturday, August 10, 2013

Man Vs. Artificial Intelligence Fuels Armory's Production of The Machine


The U.S. premiere of British playwright Matt Charman’s new play The Machine takes over Park Avenue Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall Sept. 4-18. The play, a co-commission of Park Avenue Armory, Donmar Warehouse, and the Manchester International Festival, depicts the headline-grabbing 1997 New York chess tournament between Grandmaster Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue, a super-computer developed by technology giant IBM.

An epic battle between a human genius and a state-of-the-art machine, The Machine will be staged the Armory’s 55,000-square-foot drill hall as a sports event complete with a 4-sided arena; a giant, electronic scoreboard; and video cameras capturing and broadcasting the action on a Jumbotron.

In 1997, Garry Kasparov, the world’s greatest chess player, arrived in New York City for the biggest match of his life. His opponent wasn’t a fellow Grandmaster, but a faceless super-computer, Deep Blue, built by tech-giant IBM and masterminded by Dr. Feng-Hsiung Hsu.

An international celebrity and the undisputed master of his art, Kasparov came to America for freedom and glory. What he didn't expect to confront was the lifelong dedication of another young genius, Deep Blue’s wunderkind inventor Doctor Hsu. What followed was a collision of human brilliance, foibles, greed and artificial intelligence. Under the direction of the Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Josie Rourke, the cast features Hadley Fraser as Garry Kasparov, Francesca Annis as Garry’s mother, Clara, and Kenneth Lee as Dr. Hsu.

The Machine is the first play Park Avenue Armory has co-commissioned for the Wade Thompson Drill Hall as part of the Armory’s 2013 season, which offers a series of commissions, co-commissions, and presentations that blur the distinctions between genres and break new ground for artists and audiences alike within the unconventional platforms of the Armory’s soaring drill hall. The Armory seeks to enable artists to create and audiences to experience immersive and adventurous work that cannot be done elsewhere in New York.

The season also includes Massive Attack V Adam Curtis (Sept. 28-Oct. 4), a new kind of imaginative experience conceived by Adam Curtis and Robert Del Naja, mixing music, film, and politics performed by Massive Attack and special guests; a recital series presented in the Armory’s renovated Board of Officers Room, featuring baritone Christian Gerhaher, violinist Vilde Frang, and pianist Anton Batagov (Sept. 29-Oct. 27); and Robert Wilson’s powerful new staging of The Life and Death of Marina Abramović (Dec.12-21). The season was launched in March with OKTOPHONIE, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s epic electronic masterpiece, ritualized in a lunar environment created by visual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, followed by WS, a monumental installation by Paul McCarthy.

Tickets and information: 212-933-5812; www.armoryonpark.org.


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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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All material is copyright 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

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The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

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I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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