Sep 1, 2023
"The evolution has begun, and I believe that the arts are going to be a very important partner for technology. Could this be the beginning of the next Golden Age? Absolutely."
"Wilber’s New Wife" is my newest dramatic attempt of navigating the stormy cyber seas in this post pandemic twenty-first century miasmic fantasia we call reality. It’s the tale of a playwright who is very fragile in the real world and when his wife Candice leaves him to fend for himself in the war zones of New York City, Wilber just about gives up … until he is nominated for a Tony Award. Now he is excited about his career.
His lifelong friend and director, Ben Garrison, is even more ecstatic because Wilber just received a very generous contract for his next play, Gorilla, which needs lots of work. Wanting to help, software designer Candice, now head of programming at TECHMATE in Silicon Valley, sends Wilber one of her newest model prototypes, Goldie 001. She’s a personal assistant who is about to make Wilber’s life a whole lot easier… or not.
As the new play within the play plods through the new script at rehearsals, Ben realizes that Wilber is struggling - his creative well has run dry. He suggests that they let Goldie try her hand at revision, and guess what? The new rewrites are fantastic! This makes Wilber a little jealous, and of course, chaos ensues.
Let’s move into my reality for a moment. Me, the real playwright. The idea of the jealous playwright is actually grounded in my personal reality. When I decided that Goldie would start revising Wilber’s scenes, my editor suggested we use ChatGPT. When I saw what it did to my work, well, let’s say I was just a little put out. “Wowie-zowie, I thought… that’s good stuff. No, that’s really good stuff.” Fortunately for me, I have worked very hard at playwriting for several decades, but as a practicing Sahaja Yogi I’ve worked even harder at keeping my ego at bay.
I actually loved the amalgamation of the meta-meta theatrical realism. I told Matt, my editor, now writing partner, to work it into the play. And now a good play has become a great play and won admittance into the Rogue Theater Festival.
As a seeker of truth, I’m starting to believe that all the world is a stage - a stage of evolution where if we can connect with the creative spirit within us, magical and marvelous things can happen right before our eyes. The evolution has begun, and I believe that the arts are going to be a very important partner for technology. Could this be the beginning of the next Golden Age? Absolutely.
The citizens of the 21st century, through the myths elaborated by the ancient poets, have a very important role to play. This intervention provokes many transformations and deconstructions in the structure of our current play of life in this meta modern era. Just as the ancient artists of the first Golden Age, we are in the midst of revising the composition of the plot, theme and character in order to create a new theater genre. One that can transmute the ancient story in order to speak to our culture about the problems of the world today.
“The necessity of the theatrical form to fit the needs of the modern audience is truly a bit more than frivolity, the positive outcome of the advanced evolution ultimately depends on it.” (Birdbath, Koepfinger 1995)
In addition to creating theater to understand culture, humankind has an inherent nature – we must celebrate. The Ancient Greeks were no different from us today. In the infamous Festival of Dionysus, the Greeks were birthing a new genre of art, alas the theater was born. This was a major contribution to our evolution, as it allowed us to reach a new level of self-realization and self-reflection. Theatre prompts us to a higher level of cognition through creativity, delivering the many psychological, technological and cultural innovations that are surrounding us today.
The origins of the First Golden Age were more than 2500 years ago, and it was there that the concept of theater was born in Athens, Greece. Legend has it, that during this great Festival of Dionysus, an actor named Thespis, stepped out of the Greek chorus and the literary form we know as drama came into being. Countless philosophical quests were birthed in some of the greatest plays ever written. Looking at the big picture of great art and culture, we must admit that we owe it to the Ancient Greeks for a virtual landslide of innovation and inspirational content.
Our Second Golden Age is harder to comprehend as we stand in the midst of it. Things are changing faster than we humans can keep up. We recognize the talents of our cybernetic non-binary brothers and sisters, and we nod to them as contributors to our work and our world. Yet, I’d like to take it a step further. Could these AIs be the sentient beings that will bring us closer to our true creative nature? Working with ChatGPT not only inspired me but raised my consciousness to a level just a bit higher spiritually. Like the Ancient Greeks who observed their appreciation of fertility with extensive ceremonies to insure altered mental states, working with Artificial Intelligence has raised my linear understanding into a state of thoughtless awareness that made room for new creative possibility and potential.
Like these Ancient Greeks who bridged their mental and emotional states in hopes to access the powers that propel them into the divine realm – the source, the place where it all begins. The Greeks believed that theater had a three-fold purpose: to entertain, to educate and to exult the human spirit. To them, theater became a sacred method of unleashing creative energies through performance. Through the ages, theater has changed quite a bit. The basic forms of comedy and tragedy still live on, and exultation of the spirit seems to come effortlessly through a laugh or a tear. Love, joy and fear still confound the world of medical science yet abound in the private practices of the theater. Could our AI friends be the ones ushering in the next Golden Age? I don’t know, but for now, I am delighted to be able to collaborate with them. It was truly a transcendent experience. Maybe like going to your first high school dance, you have no idea what is going to happen, but you are sure glad to be there.
As winner of the 2021 Olwen Wymark Theatre Award for encouraging artists worldwide by the WGGB, Koepfinger, a member of Dramatists Guild, ICWP and LPTW, believes that creative energy is never lost - just changes hands and hearts. She’s the host of AIRPLAY, a virtual theatre program in its 18th season, bringing together the voices of artists from all over. As adjunct faculty, Coni taught at Carnegie Mellon and Point Park Universities.