Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)

The Traverse’s Breakfast Plays series is an intriguing prospect: four plays on the same theme by their Associate Artists, presented as script-in-hand rehearsed readings at 9am each day, along with breakfast. The play is just what you want to start your day: a singularly focused, lightly demanding think-piece; and the breakfast is perfectly acceptable.

You could go every day and keep the conversation going all week.

Among the plays in the series, which also includes new work by Morna Pearson, Tim Price and Stef Smith, our audience saw the presentation of The Conversation by Rob Drummond, whose other new play, In Fidelity, is one the Traverse’s headliners this Fringe. ‘Co-written,’ the performance notes tell us, by Drummond and a Chatbot, The Conversation is the sort of small experiment well suited to this kind of format.

It asks questions of form and content, questions like ‘What would happen if you wrote a play with a chatbot?’, ‘What limits does it place on form?’ and, ‘What ideas could it open?. I like these because they are small, 9am questions. They are get-your-brain-in-gear-for-the-rest-of-the-day questions, warm-ups for a day of Fringe theatre, like doing your stretches.

There are some big questions too, perhaps. The plays, we are told, ‘guarantee a fresh perspective on the future of human-machine relations.’ Although, curiously, Drummond’s does not. The Conversation is not speculative fiction, but part auto-biography and part generated by a technology that is both popular and current. It feels resolutely (almost stubbornly) in the present, giving it its shape, limit and unique currency as a work. If it does gesture towards the future, those gestures are vague and indirect. Perhaps Drummond’s play could be seen as a statement against The Traverse’s original commision, against the speculative, trapped by the confines of the present.

It is easy to see how the four plays together would have a cumulative impact. The Conversation is ripe for, well, conversation; not only in-and-of-itself, but also as one interpretation of The Traverse’s Breakfast Plays brief. Of course, there are three others in the series. You could go every day and keep the conversation going all week. Or, if you only go the once, it could last at least until lunchtime.

Reviews by Tom Moyser

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The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe)

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Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)

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The Blurb

Technology permeates our lives in more complex ways than ever before. Traverse Associate Artists Rob Drummond, Morna Pearson, Tim Price and Stef Smith join forces to fight off killer robots, befriend cyborgs, forge unlikely connections and explore, first-hand, the many ways our lives may be about to change forever. Witty, bleak and provocative, this year’s Breakfast Plays guarantee a fresh perspective on the future of human-machine relations. Will technology save us, or will it tear us apart? Enjoy a breakfast roll and tea or coffee with your ticket.

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