By Pedro Reyes
Written By Paul Hufker
Directed by Meghan Finn
Score by Mike Cassedy
Lights by Brian Aldous
Sound Technician, Christian Roberson
Stage Manager, Ilana Khanin
Video by David Pym
Script Consultant, Rosalind Grush
Featuring Christine Schisano, Christina Stone, Victor Ayala, Mery Cheung, Julia Darden
Manufacturing Mischief, the New York premiere of a satirical play by Pedro Reyes that features puppet characters based on Noam Chomsky, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Elon Musk and Tiny Trump. The work was conceived as part of Reyes residency as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology.
It deals with issues of technology, ideology and the current political climate from a critical perspective, while also serving as entertainment and speaking both to scholars and a broader audience alike.
Brilliant American linguist Noam Chomsky is headed to a Silicon Valley convention to judge a competition for new Artificial Intelligence devices. Chomsky is stunned to find one of his prized students (from his days as a professor at MIT), Millie, has a device entered into the competition. Chomsky then finds the competition is hosted by none other than South African inventor, Elon Musk, who mysteriously summoned Chomsky to the convention. Millie's device is called the Print-A-Friend, and works by materializing the author of any book inserted into it. Chaos ensues, as Ayn Rand, a tiny version of Donald Trump, Karl Marx, and others, are reanimated, and the Print-A-Friend is stolen! Noam Chomsky, his loyal and brilliant student Millie, and Karl Marx must fend off the forces of capitalistic evil and the damage they might do with this new AI machine. Current events, politics, science, morality, and cats collide in this silly, farcical puppet play.
Using comedy to address political discourse and the dilemmas that artificial intelligence and late capitalism pose, the play serves as a critique of new technologies for automation, such as self-driving cars and robots that replace humans in the workforce, as well as the class conflicts that ensue when technology eliminates jobs.
ABOUT PEDRO REYES Pedro Reyes is a widely celebrated multi-platform artist, activist and educator based in Mexico City. He uses all aspects of visual art and education to address political and social issues. One of his main commitments is using the arts to reduce gun violence. In 2008, Reyes commenced Palas por Pistolas. The program collected over 1,527 guns donated from Mexican citizens, melted them down into 1,527 shovels, and then gave them to various schools and art institutions, which in turn used them to plant 1,527 trees. The program's success garnered attention from the Mexican government, which donated 6,700 weapons that Reyes converted into musical instruments. As part of this pacifist effort, he created Amendment to the Amendment, a traveling workshop where US citizens take part in a rewrite of the Second Amendment. Last year, he was one of 13 artists included in the Ford Foundations The Art of Change fellowship program. His work Doomocracy was presented by Creative Time at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in 2016. For Manufacturing Mischief he is joined again by his Doomocracy collaborators director Meghan Finn and writer Paul Hufker to create this premiere at The Tank.