Sex With Robots And Other Devices was born out of a whole range of ‘What Ifs?’ Most prominently what if your robot developed a level of knowledge and/or sentiance led them to question consent? That for me has always felt like the kernel of the idea and from that question, others sprang, other scenarios, other characters, other worlds.
Writing the play has in no way been formulaic, but it was helpful to have in my head three key ingredients for all the stories, sex, robots and a what if - it sounds super simple, but when something wasn't quite working I looked back at my menu and would quickly realise something from this DNA was missing and would be steered back on track.
Director Bobby Brook and I have inevitably looked at a lot of research over the years, books, documentaries, news articles, websites that sell similar or nearing similar products and we’ve always kept our eyes on what's the latest developing technology - however there comes a point, or I realised there came a point, quite early on, that the research can only give you so much - that it is stimulus and the best way to actually research was by questioning and debating the ‘what ifs’ with others, creatives and by default, I guess, those with questioning minds!
This came in the largely in the form of workshops with actors, Bobby and I would offer what ifs on cards and the actors would devise or debate based on these. We have been lucky enough to work with some phenomenal actors over the years that really helped to shape the questions of this world, of course, in a very human way. I'd then write up and cannibalise what struck me as most interesting, most challenging, most questionable and we would present these seeds at the end of a workshop week, then taking on board audience feedback and recalibrating our process and the work/worlds themselves each time. We repeated this process twice, before I then spent an extended period of time really drilling down and committing to some core stories/characters and presenting these at Live Theatre as part of the Elevator Festival. This gave us the chance, for the first time, to have real production values and a paying audience who were really engaged and sat for ages in the bar afterwards debating with us. There were also the inevitable more dramaturgical thoughts too - most notably, questions around hope, so in the last set of rewrites that certainly something I've considered, as with any technology, as with anything there are phenomenal advantages and phenomenal flaws.
Ultimately the play remains with its core however, a spring board for debate, a questioning, and many many more what ifs…?
From 15 May. Tickets.