By Pedro Reyes
Written By Paul Hufker
Directed by Meghan Finn
Score by Mike Cassedy
Lights by Brian Aldous
Sound Design by Christian Roberson
Manufacturing Mischief, the New York premiere of a satirical play by Pedro Reyes that features puppet characters based on Noam Chomsky, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Elon Musk and Tiny Trump. The work was conceived as part of Reyes residency as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology.
It deals with issues of technology, ideology and the current political climate from a critical perspective, while also serving as entertainment and speaking both to scholars and a broader audience alike.
The plot centers around two MIT students who are planning a birthday surprise for MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomksy, using a new form of artificial intelligence called the Print-A-Friend. After they insert a book, out pops the author Karl Marx, bringing one of Chomskys heroes, back to life. Through a series of mishaps, Ayn Rand and Tiny Trump also appear and wreak havoc on the party. Hoping to make amends for a gift gone haywire, the students try to enlist the help of Elon Musk, but encounter his robot surrogate instead. In the end, they are left to grapple with the unintended consequences of their technological innovation.
Using comedy to address political discourse and the dilemmas that artificial intelligence and late capitalism pose, the play serves as a critique of new technologies for automation, such as self-driving cars and robots that replace humans in the workforce, as well as the class conflicts that ensue when technology eliminates jobs.
ABOUT PEDRO REYES
Pedro Reyes is a widely celebrated multi-platform artist, activist and educator based in Mexico City. He uses all aspects of visual art and education to address political and social issues. One of his main commitments is using the arts to reduce gun violence. In 2008, Reyes commenced Palas por Pistolas. The program collected over 1,527 guns donated from Mexican citizens, melted them down into 1,527 shovels, and then gave them to various schools and art institutions, which in turn used them to plant 1,527 trees. The program's success garnered attention from the Mexican government, which donated 6,700 weapons that Reyes converted into musical instruments. As part of this pacifist effort, he created Amendment to the Amendment, a traveling workshop where US citizens take part in a rewrite of the Second Amendment. Last year, he was one of 13 artists included in the Ford Foundations The Art of Change fellowship program. His work Doomocracy was presented by Creative Time at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in 2016.