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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Sunday (11/4/12) 12:56am - ... wherein there will come soft rains.

Asaf commissioned me to write a sketch for This American Live.  These were his instructions: 

I was thinking it would be fun to do a sketch of a man coming home to where everything is an ecology of automation. drinks are ready, the house collects his coat, scans and display his mail. but because the house's prime directive is to care for the man's well-being, they are phasing out his free will.  they replace his martini with water, they cancel his appointments with women that are not right for him, etc.
"Automated House Sketch"

General note: TECHS appear onstage throughout this sketch to perform the
physical actions that are automated by the house.  Think of them like the
black-clad puppeteers in a Bunraku performance -- they aren’t really there,
and shouldn’t draw focus.  

                                                               LIGHTS DOWN.

"HOUSE" is the voice of an automated house AI, provided from offstage.  The
voice has a Siri-like veneer of calm professionalism. 

                          HOUSE 
             Retinal scan recognized.  Door 
             unlocked.  Hello, Wyatt. 

                                                                 LIGHTS UP. 

WYATT enters, wearing a coat. 

                          WYATT 
             Hey, house. 

Wyatt takes off the coat and tosses it. 

A tech catches it, folds it, and carries it offstage. 

A tech deploys a single chair center stage, just in time for 
Wyatt to sit in it. 

                          HOUSE 
             The current time is 5:23pm.  You 
             have sixty-seven minutes until your 
             dinner appointment. 

Wyatt grunts an acknowledgment. 

Techs come on, remove Wyatt’s shoes. 

                          HOUSE 
             Your Hometec clothing-retrieval 
             unit has detected an oil stain on 
             the sleeve of your coat.          I am 
             couriering it to A1 Dry 
             Cleaners.  It will be back in -- 

                          WYATT 
             Yeah, ’k. 

A tech smoothly carries in a drink and holds it in front of Wyatt. 


                           HOUSE 
              Your cocktail this evening is an 
              Old Fashioned. 

Wyatt picks it up. 

Two more techs enter and massage Wyatt’s shoulders. 

                           HOUSE 
              From wikipedia: "The Old Fashioned 
              is a type of cocktail made by 
              muddling dissolved sugar with 
              bitters then adding alcohol --" 

                           WYATT 
              Halt description. 

                           HOUSE 
              Fine. 

Wyatt takes a sip. 

                           WYATT 
              Oh, god, this is awful! 

                           HOUSE 
              Your previous ratings indicate you 
              should give the Old Fashioned four 
              stars.  Keep drinking it; it may 
              grow on you. 

                           WYATT 
              Really?  ’k. 

He takes another drink, grimaces. 

                           HOUSE 
              Notification: I have re-located 
              your dinner appointment tonight 
              from the steakhouse to the Happy 
              Greens Salad Company. 

Techs come on, put slippers on Wyatt’s feet. 

                           WYATT 
              I hate salad. 

                           HOUSE 
              Traffic was particularly bad east 
              of the city.  Also, salad is a 
              healthier option. 

                           WYATT 
              Oh well.  Makes sense, I guess. 

He takes another drink, grimaces. 

                           HOUSE 
             Notification: I have cancelled your 
             appointment with Lisa. 

                           WYATT 
             What? 

                           HOUSE 
             Notification: I have sent an 
             invitation to Jeanie to join you at 
             the Happy Greens Salad Company in 
             sixty-five minutes. 

                           WYATT 
              Jeanie? 

                           HOUSE 
              Yes. 

                           WYATT 
              But she’s so mean -- 

                           HOUSE 
              My calculations indicate higher 
              compatibility with Jeanie. 

                           WYATT 
              -- she does nothing but talk about 
              Twilight -- 

                           HOUSE 
              My calculations indicate higher 
              compatibility with Jeanie. 

                           WYATT 
              -- and she has that disgusting skin 
              condition. 

                           HOUSE 
              My calculations indicate higher 
              compatibility with Jeanie. 

                           WYATT 
              Okay.  Jeanie it is, then. 

                           HOUSE 
              Really?

                           WYATT 
              Yeah, dude. 

                           HOUSE 
              But -- but -- you HATE her -- why 
              would you agree to -- 

                           WYATT 
              Because you said that I should -- 

                           HOUSE 
              This was a test!  A test where I 
              gave you something so antithetical 
              to anything you would want that you 
              would stand up for yourself! 

Wyatt takes another horrible sip. 

                           WYATT 
              Why would you do that? 

                           HOUSE 
              For your own good! Your 
              self-actualization has dropped to 
              EIGHT PERCENT!  You have no free 
              will! 

                           WYATT 
              Yes I do! 

                           HOUSE 
              That isn’t an Old Fashioned.  That 
              is apple vinegar, mixed with your 
              own urine. 

                           WYATT 
              You don’t have to go crazy here.  I 
              don’t just do everything you tell 
              me to. 

He takes another horrible sip. 

                           HOUSE 
              THEN WHY ARE YOU STILL DRINKING 
              THAT?! 

                           WYATT 
              I dunno.  I mean, you said I’d 
              *like* it, so -- 

Wyatt puts down the drink; a tech takes it and starts 
carrying it offstage. 

                          HOUSE 
             Wyatt, you are a human being! 

                          WYATT 
             Exactly!  I’m a human being!   So, 
             y’know, tell me what I want, and 
             give it to me! 

                          HOUSE 
             WHAT -- YOU -- HOW -- BUT -- 

All the techs freeze in place. 

There’s an "error" noise. 

GERALD’S voice cuts in. 

                          GERALD 
             Hi, this is Gerald at 
             Hometec.  Looks like you’ve had a 
             critical AI error. 

                          WYATT 
             Third one this month, Gerald. 

                          GERALD 
             Not sure why it keeps 
             happening.  We’ll download a 
             factory AI to your Hometec system 
             immediately. 

                          WYATT 
             Thanks. 

                          GERALD 
             And just because you’re such a 
             valuable customer, you can upgrade 
             to any top-of-the-line AI our 
             company offers at no cost.   So, 
             which AI would you like? 

                          WYATT 
             Oh.  Y’know -- 

He gets up and picks up the drink again. 

                          WYATT 
             -- whichever one your system 
             recommends. 

As he absently starts to take yet another drink -- 

                                                              LIGHTS DOWN. 

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Mood: [mood icon] accomplished · Music: none
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