It’s the age of artificial intelligence, and 85-year-old Marjorie — a jumble of disparate, fading memories — has a handsome new companion who’s programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? In this richly spare, wondrous new play, Jordan Harrison explores the mysteries of human identity and the limits — if any — of what technology can replace.
Scenic Designer: Laura Jellinek Costume Designer: Jessica Pabst Lighting Designer: Ben Stanton Sound Designer: Daniel Kluger Production Stage Manager: Erin Gioia Albrecht
Jordan Harrison’s elegant, thoughtful and quietly unsettling drama operates by stealth, landing skillfully targeted punch after punch, right where it hurts. It keeps developing in your head long after you’ve seen it.
—Ben Brantley, The New York Times
This startling and profound new drama – a realistic work, and a brilliant one at that – is devastatingly rendered by the superior ensemble under Anne Kauffman’s beautifully balanced direction. See Marjorie Prime now.
Featuring performances from the cast interspersed between an eye-opening conversation between playwright Jordan Harrison, director Anne Kauffman, and author Brian Christian, whose book inspired ‘Marjorie Prime.’
Tim Sanford: You’ve got narwhals on your chest!
Jordan Harrison: You’ve never seen the narwhals? It’s like my go-to T-shirt. I loved narwhals as a kid. My friend said I always wear it at the start of a journey. I hope we’re recording, that’s not a bad beginning.
I have the same reluctance to talk about the role artificial intelligence plays in Marjorie Prime as I had to discuss the nuclear meltdown setting of Anne Washburn’s acclaimed Mr. Burns. In some respects, both plays feel as if they were written in response to our pop culture’s unslakeable appetite for certain sensationalistic science fiction tropes.
Bainbridge Island, where Jordan Harrison grew up, is rustic and lush, marked by winding two-lane roads that cut through sheets of gothic Pacific Northwest mist as they weave along an expanse of jagged, soaring coastline; in my experience, you’re about as likely to encounter a harbor seal there as you are a person. Just 10 miles across Puget Sound, close enough to be visible from the eastern beaches, is hi-tech Seattle, brimming with modernist architecture; birthplace of Microsoft and Nirvana; home of e-readers, coffee shop entrepreneurialism, the WTO riots, and eye-rolling hipsters.
“Science fiction writers don’t predict the future (except accidentally),” argues novelist Cory Doctorow in an essay called “Radical Presentism.” “But if they’re very good, they may manage to predict the present.”