Kara: An Artificial Friend staged as part of Being Human: A “Festival of the Humanities” | November 2023

by Yaxin Luo and Amelia DeFalco

Feature image from left to right: India Thomson (actor), Steve Byrne (Director), Yaxin Luo (actor)

On 9-10 November, the LBO team brought the theatrical piece Kara: An Artificial Friend to Being Human – “the UK’s national festival of the humanities.” This work was developed with director Steve Byrne and Interplay National Sensory Theatre during the first LBO residency. The Being Human performances were delivered to two audiences. The first performance was open to the public and included an enthusiastic post-performance discussion between performers and audience members about artificial being and friendship. The second performance was delivered to students and teachers from John Jamieson School, a special school in Leeds. The students were eager to interact with Kara during the performance and expressed interest in meeting her again during the post-performance discussion.

Kara is one of two “artificial friend” performances that developed out of a series of workshops involving acting and movement exercises, close readings, theatrical adaptation work, collaborative writing, and experimentation with AI and motion capture technology during Interplay’s LBO residency. Audience research helped guide our creative strategies, which prioritized interaction and improvisation as methods for including learning disabled audiences as co-creators. As a result, the performance’s success depends on creating safe spaces for audience participation. Steve Byrne and Stuart Murray are continuing to develop Kara for special education schools across Leeds.

To learn more about the Interplay residency and the creation of the Kara performance piece, see our Interplay residency project update and BMJ residency podcast.

A female actor wearing all black clothing and wearing a silver wig stands on a black stage with a black backdrop. She clutches a long piece of light blue cloth to her body.

Image: India Thomson (actor)