AI and Playwrighting: What is the Future? - StageLync
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AI and Playwrighting: What is the Future?

Ana Aguliera and I had a wonderful Podcast conversation this morning with playwright, actor, musician, and teacher Jack Canfora. (Podcast coming out soon). Our conversation lead into AI and how it would affect playwriting.

We collectively decided for the world that theatre was not dead with the onslaught of AI. In fact, nothing can replace the human connection theatre provides. But how can AI help us? How will it affect Playwriting? Well, who better to ask than AI itself? Here is a computer-generated response on the pros and cons of AI and playwriting, along with my commentary…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been revolutionizing several industries, including the arts. Playwriting is one such area where AI can be a useful tool for playwrights to improve their craft. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of AI for playwrights.

(A) AI has very formulaic introductions to a topic. It is not very creative yet with its introductions and conclusions. Feels a little like Year 9 English class-level introductions to me….

Pros of AI for Playwrights

Idea Generation: AI can generate new and fresh ideas for playwrights to work on. By analyzing data from various sources, AI can suggest themes, plots, and characters for playwrights to consider.

(A) Fast-tracking information is a useful function of AI. If you want to summarize movie plots, books, etc., then playwrights might save themselves some research time. I think of AI as a more direct Google. I am not a playwright myself, but I did go to ChatGPT yesterday to ask for a Google Sheets formula: I was able to describe how I wanted the cells to reference each other, and it gave me the formula to do that… Previously that would have taken me a 20-minute search on Google to get to the right answer. It’s a time-saver… if anything, start there with your use of AI.

Improved Character Development: AI can analyze large amounts of data and create complex characters with unique traits and backstories. This can help playwrights create more dynamic and well-rounded characters.

(A) This would be an interesting thing to try out to add some depth to a character. Throw a handful of questions into ChatGPT and see what comes out. In a good way, it can stem some ideas while leaving the actual writing, dialogue, and manifestation of the character in the script to the playwright.

Dialogue Enhancement: AI can also analyze language patterns and suggest improvements to dialogue. Playwrights can use this feedback to refine their scripts and make them more engaging for audiences.

(A) I’m still a little doubtful about this facet. The beauty of a playwright is how their words are uniquely strung together and how they might interact unconventionally with the dialogue of another character. Sometimes that is further nuanced with action or gestures onstage. You certainly do not want formulaic dialogue in a play; where’s the magic in that? What I would love to see is for an AI to read all the Shakespeare plays and then write one.  Let’s analyse those results and see where we are really at with AI-generated dialogue.

Time-saving: AI can help playwrights save time by automating mundane tasks such as formatting, editing, and proofreading. This allows playwrights to focus on more creative aspects of their work, such as character development and plot.

(A) Yes and yes… let it do the functional stuff so playwrights can focus on the art.

Cons of AI for Playwrights

Lack of Creativity: While AI can generate ideas and provide feedback, it may lack the creative spark that makes a great play. Playwriting is an art form that requires creativity and human intuition, which AI may not be able to replicate.

(A) Wonderful that this is acknowledged by AI itself.

Overreliance on Technology: AI can be a useful tool, but playwrights should not rely on it entirely. Overdependence on technology can stifle creativity and limit the potential of a play.

(A) Getting an autogenerated script that you need to edit to be original may be more time-consuming than if you wrote it from scratch yourself. You also want the writing to be in “your” voice, so might need to spend some considerable time adapting it to get it to “feel” like you.

Bias: AI is only as objective as the data it is trained on. If the data contains biases, the AI’s suggestions may also be biased. This can be especially problematic for plays that deal with sensitive or controversial topics.

(A) Oooohhhh this is interesting. Where is AI getting its sources from? How do we know that the data it is pushing out is correct? In what spaces is it learning? Tread carefully……

Lack of Human Connection: Playwriting is about creating a human connection with the audience. AI-generated plays may lack the emotional depth and nuance that only a human playwright can provide.

(A) I agree with you, AI. Plays are intended to be performed in front of an audience. Only a human playwright (I love this, a human playwright) can create the nuances of their intended expression. As we theatre makers know, the script is only one part of a theatrical execution. AI cannot replace the moment in creation when the lighting designer, director, and actor work together to create a moment onstage. The way the director shares his thoughts on the dialogue delivery, the stance the actor takes on stage, and the way the lighting designer lights the moment. That is when a playwright’s work comes to life…and only a HUMAN playwright can supply the foundation for that moment to happen.

In conclusion, AI can be a useful tool for playwrights to improve their craft, but it is not a replacement for human creativity and intuition. Playwrights should use AI to enhance their work, but not rely on it entirely. Additionally, playwrights should be aware of the potential biases in AI-generated content and strive to create a human connection with their audiences. Overall, the integration of AI into the playwriting process has the potential to revolutionize the industry, but it must be used responsibly and in conjunction with human creativity.

This article was originally published on TheatreArtLife.com. 

Anna Robb
Producer, Founder and CEO of StageLync -HONG KONG
Anna is the Executive Producer for Our Legacy Creations, a Global Live Entertainment Company and the CEO of StageLync.com. Originally from Australia, Anna's 23 year career in live entertainment has taken her around the world. Anna has created shows in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and in many countries across Asia. Always behind the scenes, Anna has been involved in the execution of some of the largest show creations in the world, including “The Beatles: LOVE” by Cirque du Soleil, and “The House of Dancing Water” in Macau. Anna holds a (BA) Honours degree in Design for Theatre and Television.

Editor's Note: At StageLync, an international platform for the performing arts, we celebrate the diversity of our writers' backgrounds. We recognize and support their choice to use either American or British English in their articles, respecting their individual preferences and origins. This policy allows us to embrace a wide range of linguistic expressions, enriching our content and reflecting the global nature of our community.

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Anna Robb

Anna is the Executive Producer for Our Legacy Creations, a Global Live Entertainment Company and the CEO of StageLync.com. Originally from Australia, Anna's 23 year career in live entertainment has taken her around the world. Anna has created shows in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and in many countries across Asia. Always behind the scenes, Anna has been involved in the execution of some of the largest show creations in the world, including “The Beatles: LOVE” by Cirque du Soleil, and “The House of Dancing Water” in Macau. Anna holds a (BA) Honours degree in Design for Theatre and Television.