PROMETHEUS FIREBRINGER (CLOSED)
“Quietly stunning…brain-jangling…dense and yet lucid…harrowing and playful…brief and brilliantly constructed.” - New York Magazine
“A Battle Royale… Annie Dorsen… is warm and thrilling… She predicts the rise of the soulless art product—and handily demonstrates its defeat.” - The New Yorker
“Forcefully beneficial….Dorsen is doing, however extremely, what artists have always done: gathering, sampling, synthesizing to create something wholly new.” - The New York Times
“Intellectually stimulating, and terrifically clever. ” - New York Theater
“★★★★ Provocative...Dorsen’s commentary is fascinating...Behind the philosophical inquiries she puts onstage, there is real intelligence at play.” - Time Out New York
Theatre for a New Audience Presents
The Annie Dorsen Production
September 15–October 1, 2023
Written, Directed, Performed by Annie Dorsen
Running time: 45 minutes
“Writer-director Annie Dorsen will use artificial intelligence to generate speculative versions of the missing sections of Aeschylus’s 2,500-year-old Prometheia trilogy. Each performance will feature a different iteration performed by AI-generated masks.”— Zachary Stewart, TheaterMania
“What shall I do?” is a question at the heart of every Greek tragedy, observes philosopher Simon Critchley. When there are no good options, when every course of action comes with unbearable costs, how do you choose? This question inspires a new lecture-performance by Annie Dorsen, Prometheus Firebringer, which continues her exploration of the ambiguous impacts of technology.
In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus stole the gods’ fire to give it to humans—sparking sudden and dramatic advances in technology and the arts, and dramatic new sources of conflict. His story is told in the 2,500-year-old Prometheia trilogy attributed to Aeschylus, of which only Prometheus Bound remains in full.
In Prometheus Firebringer, Dorsen uses the predictive text model GPT-3.5 (the same model that runs ChatGPT) to generate speculative versions of the missing story. Each night a chorus of AI-generated Greek masks performs a different iteration, while Dorsen engages the audience in reflections on power, knowledge, and doubt.
For the past decade Dorsen has been making work about how our reliance on computational tools and systems is changing our relationship to language, power, and thought—what we know and how we know it.
For a full digital program— including cast and creative team bios, essays on the production, and interviews with the artists—read our expanded 360° Viewfinder.
Annie Dorsen is a theatre director and writer whose works explore the intersection of algorithms and live performance. Her most recent project, Infinite Sun (2019), is an algorithmic sound installation commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial 14. Previous performance projects, including The Slow Room (2018), The Great Outdoors (2017), Yesterday Tomorrow (2015), A Piece of Work (2013), Spokaoke (2012), and Hello Hi There (2010), have been widely presented in the US and internationally.
Her work has been presented at Performance Space New York (formerly PS122), Le Festival d’Automne de Paris, The Holland Festival, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, New York Live Arts, Kampnagel Summer Festival, Kaaitheater, and The New York Film Festival’s “Views from the Avant-garde” series, along with many others.
She is the co-creator of the 2008 Broadway musical Passing Strange, which she also directed.
A retrospective of Annie Dorsen’s algorithmic work was presented in 2022 at Bryn Mawr College with major support by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. The publication Algorithmic Theater: Essays and Dialogues, 2012-2022 was created as a literary companion to the event, collecting a decade of writings by and about Dorsen, including dialogues with artistic collaborators in addition to provocative essays on theatre and technology.
In addition to awards for Passing Strange, Dorsen received a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2014 Herb Alpert Award for the Arts in Theatre.
Ryan Holsopple, Video & Systems Designer
Ruth Waldeyer, Lighting Designer
Ian Douglas Moore, Sound Designer
Sukanya Aneja, Software Designer and Programmer
Okwui Okpokwasili, Voiceprint
Livia Reiner, Voiceprint
Harry Kleeman, 3D Artist
Tom Sellar, Dramaturg
Natasha Katerinopoulos, Producer
Original support for Prometheus Firebringer was provided to Bryn Mawr College by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia.
Prometheus Firebringer is supported in part by commissions from New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Residency Program with additional support from Partners for New Performance, and Media Art Xploration’s MAXmachina laboratory funded in part by Science Sandbox. The piece was developed with the support of the Eureka Commissions program created by Onassis Foundation, and the Mercury Store. The Off-off Broadway premiere was co-presented by the Chocolate Factory Theater, May 11-13, 2023.
Design by Paul Davis Studio / Mo Hinojosa
Beginning with TFANA’s 2023-24 season, face masks for audiences are encouraged, but not required.
Deloitte is the 2023-2024 Season Sponsor.
Principal support for Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs is provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation Fund in the New York Community Trust, The SHS Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Thompson Family Foundation.
Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs are also made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities; Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.