Artificial, a comedy drama that explores artificial intelligence and the blurring between technology and humans, is written and directed by Luke Culloty, and will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018.

Luke Culloty spoke with The Fountain about the premise of the play, his plans for Edinburgh in August and why he works in theatre.

TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?

Yes very! we were very fortunate in the sense that after our initial run in the Hen and Chicken Theatre, that was sort of the planned end of Artificial. We found due to our reaction from audience and press, I felt the play had more of an audience to reach and legs that I couldn’t have foreseen, making the plays end premature. The chance then arose to perform at the Space On North Bridge (Fife theatre) when Charles at the SpaceUK gave us this chance and opportunity, when it came to be I couldn’t say no to going back to the Edinburgh again but with my own company and work with the momentum of our new company and young talents behind us. The ideal of my company is that anyone from any walk of life, sex, sexual preference, creed and culture can have a platform to tell stories and perform their own art, in many mediums, theatre being one of them and going to one of the best festivals in the world for art, with an electric empowered and passionate environment with a great group of talents behind our company seemed the perfect way to debut our company’s work in Edinburgh and the perfect platform for these talents and this particular story to be told.

TF: Artificial certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?

Artificial is sort of a mundane fairy tale, set in our future, The premise is about a person called Dom who is a Robotic Therapist, in a sort of distant future, whose job is to sit in family homes and asses their families and from that assessment fit them the correct A.I for their home. All the while he goes home and is alone dealing a divorce and lost love, His almost infatuation with this idea of love he has. his only company the machines he makes and terminates. Until in one home he makes an unexpected human connection and the lines between his work and home begin to blur. As we watch him try to be human again.

As for my sort of intention for the play, when I wrote it I had the intention to just remove a wall in a home and not serve an audience, to be true to that reality, in direction in a sort of pretentious sounding way, just remove that performing aspect and implement just being. I’d say if there were a message it would be, with where we are going with technology, I wanted to touch on the consequences of the lines that will blur between machines and man, as well as our own personal relationships and dependency on technology. How humans will become more isolated from their fellow man, as well as my own personal fascination with love. The ideas of it, rather than the real feeling and the idea of loving the idea of being in love, seeing the consequences of not falling for someone or something but the idea of it/them. So in some sense it’s like a fairy tale only the carriage has no horses to pull it, the carriage is static.

TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?

I’ve always loved theatre, I’ve acted in it, performed, written and produced theatre and film, I believed and was driven to now direct my own theatre, as I believe I want to create my own style in theatre using visuals that are interesting to the eye and fresh, pretty. Using music and movement to portray language and often make stories of day to day life, which can be unrepresented in theatre and film, in this particular play I try to take the mundane and bury the drama and themes under that mundanity and find the beauty in that mundanity and style in it as well. Taking inspiration from Michael Longhurst, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson in their work with visual subtle storytelling, as well as incredible character studies and themes. Having people like Kim Walker who designed our poster to illustrate that style was paramount and Issy Matheson to find that sound for this particular play, Michael Corcoran for his beautiful lighting ability, all contributing to that drive, then adding in a group of incredibly talented actors and actresses, really gives you that power and passion to make anything, I have been fortunate in the kindness of others and connections I’ve made with great talent and my peers, as well as the theatre and film I’m fortunate enough to be able to access. I’m driven to make great art and see art be made and share that with everyone. That is what drives me, I just love theatre, art and unity.

TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, have you been before?

I have been a few years ago as part of a show called Secrets of Us as assistant director and had a role in the play, it was such an awesome experience which then lead on to us getting the chance to perform at the Kings Head Theatre and I just remember feeling so part of something and so electrified by the passion around me. My main plan is to enjoy the festival and showcase outwork, see great new writing and theatre, support our fellow artists, the atmosphere and comedy shows, connect with people and artists, I have already been in contact with bigger company’s and theatres who I’d love the opportunity to work and collaborate with in the future, as well as excitement to meet many new companies in Edinburgh itself, so we will see where and how those conversations go during and after the fringe.

TF: And what are your future plans beyond Artificial?

After Edinburgh we have two shows in pre-production, that will start rehearsals and castings soon, as well working on a psychical theatre piece to transcend language and be available to all people from around the world. which we would love to tour through Europe and Asia, using a great score created by Issy Matheson, who also made our score for Artificial. Continue working with great young and up and coming talents in all mediums of art. Overall keep working hard and pushing for people of all backgrounds to have a platform for their art voice in our new company.