The Uncanny Valley

When: Oct. 5-6 and Oct. 10-13 2013

Francesca Talenti's play The Uncanny Valley takes its title from a hypothesis about people's comfort level with simulated humans. As robots or automatons are made to mimic human movement more and more closely, our pleasure and wonderment drops abruptly into revulsion as they get too close to "real." Talenti traverses that valley, using two human actors and a truly uncanny robot from a UNC-Chapel Hill lab with a plastic head that uses internally projected video to adopt increasingly realistic faces. As the RoboThespian gradually learns and replaces a young man (played by Griffen Bernhard), it becomes aware of how close it can get to legitimate experience without actually reaching it. Talenti, who teaches media production at UNC, also incorporates dazzling video sequences to startling effect. —Chris Vitiello

Price: $5-12

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