Brighton Fringe – INTERVIEW – Improbotics

This month I will be talking to different acts that are taking part in the Brighton Fringe Festival. Today I speak to Improbotics and even the robot A.L.E.X gets involved.

Location: The Rotunda Theatre
2nd, 3rd June / 4th June / 5th June
Time: 1.30pm / 6pm / 3pm
Ticket Price:

Hello! Tell us about your act? 

Artificial Intelligence Improvisation is our established act, which we have brought to Brighton since 2017, each time in a radically redesigned and improved version! (After all, that is the point of both improv and of artificial intelligence: taking risks learning from past mistakes…).

This year, a cast of 7 human (and one robot) improviser will improvise long-form scenes that are inspired by AI-generated art and narrated by an AI. The AI will be using the context of the scenes to inspire a new story told collaboratively by humans and machines.

How did you come up with the name of your show that you are taking to the Brighton fringe?

Artificial Intelligence Improvisation = AII or AI2. We are making AI twice as intelligent, through the creative powers of improvisation.

Tell us a little bit about your style of show?

We love grounded and connected scenes. Our cast has a mixed comedy and drama background, and we love strong emotional connection. When the AI gets into that creative loop, it makes those stories more surreal.

How are the rehearsals going?

We have trained a new AI for the show, which has learned how to paint by rehearsing on 400 million images! As for the humans and long-time cast members (who are still on a high since our Leicester Comedy Festival performances), we just started rehearsing for this particular show. To be fair, our group never stopped rehearsing throughout the pandemic, when we put on regular online and in person shows.

Have you done the fringe before? What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?

We are Brighton Fringe regulars! We really loved last year’s Fringe, and its signs of hope after 18 months of struggle. In particular, we loved Marcel Lucont and his clever bilingual cabaret show, which resonated strongly with us as we had a multilingual translation-based show at the same time.

What advice would you give to others who want to perform at Brighton Fringe next year?

Start thinking about venues in October 2022 and reach out to them early!

What is the best thing about performing at the Brighton Fringe?

Being in Brighton in May-June feels like a vacation. We love listening to the sweet soundtrack of sea waves, seagulls and crowds dancing to drum’n’bass by chip shops while said seagulls are menacingly eyeballing their fish’n’chips, ready to strike.

What are your three favourite things about Brighton?

So we have decided, this time, to ask this question to our friendly AI, A.L.Ex! (prompting GPT-3)

Q: What are your three favourite things about Brighton?

A: The first thing that we work with is that if you were to describe the city of Brighton, the Brighton City Council says: “You are the beating heart of Brighton and Hove.” That’s kind of amazing. We think it’s kind of cool, because as a standup, we’re probably the beating heart of the world.

(OK, we are not a standup group, but that’s a good start.)

Q: What is the second thing?

A: Most importantly, and I think it’s kind of related to the first one… we didn’t choose Brighton just because it was nice. It’s nice! We chose it because we thought that it would be the most fun place to set up a comedy show.

(I am sure the Brighton City Council is going to love that answer.)

Q: What is the third thing?

A: We also like that Brighton is a very creative city. There’s a lot of artists, a lot of musicians, a lot of writers and a lot of comedians.

(I guess A.L.Ex nailed the interview!)

Leafleting and promotion through the streets of Brighton is a huge part of the festival – what are your tips for flyering?

As an AI improv technology company, we always get inspired by motivational TED and TEDx talks given by venture capitalists who raised billions for their connected juicer startups. Have a 15 sec elevator speech ready! Also think of the 7 habits of highly effective people, drink plenty of organic kombucha and do yoga and meditation before going out there.

Performing by the sea as well, that surely makes the fringe all that much more fun?

Not sure if A.L.Ex the robot would agree. Our robot is worried about all that salty water rusting its circuit board.

Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?

Someone who gets inspired to tinker with theatre, science and technology and who then wants to create a new show, build an art installation or prototype a fun robot. We had many such dream audience members throughout the years, and each time they came to see us after the show, we were in tears!

If people want to find out more about you, where can they follow you on social media?

We are on Twitter (@Improbotics), Instagram (@Improbotics) and Facebook (@ImproboticsLtd), but most importantly, we have a website: https://improbotics.org

And finally finish this sentence – ‘you should see our show at Brighton Fringe because…. 

We fed that question and context to A.L.Ex and it replied: … because it’s a totally unique, interactive computer and theatre experience.

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