Henry Etzkowitz and Arshi Mustafa
If the theatre of ideas is your passion, then inferno Theatre’s Quantum Desire
(QD) is your “cup of tea.” Best enjoyed with your favorite sparring partner in
intellectual discourse, QD inspires lively discussion and debate that will leave you
energized and conversing, long after leaving the theatre.
Quantum Desire is an 80 minute riff on the biophysical underpinnings of Silicon
Valley culture. There is no beginning, middle or end to Inferno Theater’s Quantum
Desire, a series of vignettes expressed in movement and declamation.
A previous theatrical premise has been the ethical and practical implications of
crossing the border from the android to the human side; the fraught relationship
between creator and created, a long term literary and filmic genre from Mary
Shelley’s 19th century Frankenstein through Lon Chaney’s classic Hollywood
performances from the Silent era. The liminal borderline between human, android
and robot is explored once again, here. RUR, Rossum’s Universal Robots, a 1920’s middle European play, initiated the genre, introducing the term robot and exploring its implications, an exercise deemed useful to attract to love of literature, Bronx High School of Science sophomores in the 1950’s.
Quantum Desire (QD) reverses field. It’s novel premise asks, What if humans
became androids, quasi humans with the look and feel of their predecessors,
with physical/chemical reactions producing actions without consequences since
everyone is absolved from responsibility for their actions. QD violates the basic
Aristotelian Poetics principle of introducing a topic through people facing a
dilemma, complicating and savoring its contradictions in a second act and
resolving the tension created by opposing principles embodies in various
characters in a final third act.
Nudity in the British music hall tradition is a classic artistic format with still life
tableaus presented in rapid succession. Quantum Desire includes an
unnecessary display of female undress; there is no dramatic purpose for
females to change clothes in front of audience. How did it contribute to the plot, if indeed, there was one? In a dystopian universe depicted by an interchangeable
and interchanging four pairs of men and women, across and within genders, with
an apparent common underlying substrate is expressed by all characters at one
time or another wearing traditionally female high heels.
Theatre in the Rounds original purpose to bring actors and audience together, bridging
the gap created by classic proscenium stage separation, is vitiated when no eye contact
is made by actors with audience. Performers , many, many times looked up at the
ceiling and not at the audience. Was this an intentional message, displaying the effects
of the transformation of sentient humans into unfeeling avatars? Channeling science
into art is usually done by depicting prototypical scientists like Bohr and Heisenberg
delicately sparring over conflicting world views and moralities implicit in their science.
QD is abstract science theatre where the representations of ideas are primary;
characters voicing them secondary and anonymous.
Humans as Colliding atoms, rather than interacting persons is the message. The
medium is the Metaverse of avatars, software extensions taking on a life of their
own. The play functions as a kind of Super conducting; Super collider, coupling,
uncoupling and recoupling the players in brief, often fraught encounters. Inferno’s
Quantum desire is not the product of a happy SLAC but rather an artistic
metaphor for algorithms gone awry.
To preview Apple, Meta, Google and other coming releases in the enhanced
reality space, see Inferno Theater’s Quantum Desire (QD) for a foretaste of a
new human condition.
The run continues October 20, 21, 22 & 23 and October 27, 29 & 30 at Studio 12, in the Sawtooth Building at 2525 Eighth St, Berkeley, CA 94710.
Tickets can be purchased at https://infernotheatre.org/
Photo credit: Terry Sullivan
For more information