A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

What does it mean to be human? How far will we go to live forever? The Los Angeles premiere of Uncanny Valley, a new play about artificial intelligence written by Thomas Gibbons, directed by caryn desai [sic], and starring Susan Denaker and Jacob Sidney, opens April 21 and runs through May 7 at International City Theatre.

Claire (Denaker) is a neuroscientist who has devoted her entire life to crafting a non-biological being. Her latest attempt, named Julian (Sidney), starts out as a head without a body. As Julian receives a torso, arms and legs and becomes fully functional, Claire tries to teach him how to become “human.”

The play was inspired by a National Geographic article that featured a photo of a sentient robot named Bina48 created by the LifeNaut Project.

“LifeNaut is investigating the possibility of downloading human consciousness into an artificial body as a means of extending our lifespan,” Gibbons said in press materials. “Bina is basically a head and shoulders sitting on a table. I was really haunted by that photo.”

According to the playwright, the title “refers to the feeling that people have when they’re confronted with a very realistic robot, a feeling of fascination. But the more realistic the robot becomes, at some point that fascination turns to a kind of revulsion. They’re creeped out, and that effect is called the ‘uncanny valley.’ The play is exploring that moment.”

Culture Spot LA readers can win a pair of tickets to the show on Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m. Email editor@culturespotla.com with “Uncanny Valley” in the subject line to be entered in a drawing.

LOCATION: International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center,
330 E. Seaside Way,
 Long Beach 90802

TICKETS AND INFORMATION: (562) 436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.org