Duke Performances

Annie Dorsen: Yesterday, Tomorrow

Friday, February 11, 2022 | 8:00 pm

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Saturday, February 12, 2022 | 8:00 pm

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Rubenstein Arts Center | von der Heyden Studio Theater


Humans are haunted by the question: Can robots do our jobs as well as we can? Even more daunting: Can an algorithm create art as adeptly as a human? Theater pioneer Annie Dorsen is among the first to explore the question onstage, creating the unprecedented medium of “algorithmic theater.” For Dorsen, the stage is less a venue than a laboratory: a place to pose and test hypotheses. In Yesterday, Tomorrow, an algorithm deconstructs the classic Beatles song “Yesterday” and reconstructs it as “Tomorrow” from the Broadway musical Annie. While the algorithm produces the new score, three singers perform the results live. The algorithm has its own capacity for improvisation — or does it just seem to? Does its output amount to creativity, or even consciousness? Dorsen is an Obie Award winner and MacArthur Fellow who blends math and performance to create a unique “Dorsen universe — wonderfully rational yet magical at the same time” (BOMB Magazine).

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"... a funny, joyous, and twisting journey of sense to nonsense and back to sense again... for such an intellectual exercise, human pleasure is the overwhelming result."

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