1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
September 22, 2023 - September 23, 2023
Performances Friday 7 PM and Saturday 2 PM + 7 PM
Written and performed by Chloe Johnston
Directed by Coya Paz
Design by Angie Tillges
Tech by Nathan Lamp
Grace is an interactive performance and a deeply personal look at artificial intelligence, games, technology, and the people who make them. It is an investigation of how we interact with natural language processing programs everyday--and how they will never love us back. It is about identity and how it is constructed in person and online. And it’s about what happens when your voice travels around the world in ways you never imagined.
In 2003, I was hired to provide the voice for “Grace” for a video game loosely based on the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The game used natural language processing to provide realistic interactions between players and characters. It was released online in 2006; to date it has been downloaded 5 million times. In the years since, “Grace” has been the inspiration for fan art, memes, and music. She’s reached a much wider audience than I ever will.
As we negotiate a world where AI changes every day, where artists are fighting to keep control of their voices, Grace is a chance to think about what it means to become part of technology, and what we lose and gain.
–– Chloe Johnston
Grace was developed with support from Pivot Arts, Links Hall, Lake Forest College, and The Orchard Project.
Special thanks: Julieanne Ehre, Seth Bockley, Shana Cooper, Stephanie Pacheco, Giau Truong, Bryan Saner, Kristina Isabelle, Bob Knuth, Alex Johnston, André Pluess, Brenna Jeffers, Mario LaMothe, Danielle Ross, Jenn Freeman, Devon de Mayo, Andy Bayiates, Sunny Johnston
Chloe Johnston is a writer, director, and teacher in Chicago. Her work transforms deep archival and sociological research into interactive, accessible, and surprising performances that deal with the thorniest issues of the past and present. She has worked with theatres across Chicago and is a long-time ensemble member of The Neo-Futurists. Her original plays and performances have been called “powerful” by the New York Times, "lively and affecting" by the Chicago Tribune, "inspired" by the Chicago Sun-Times, and "moving, engaging, thought-provoking" by Time Out Chicago. Recent projects include 46 Plays for America’s First Ladies (“Critics Pick,” the New York Times), a reimagining of American history currently in production around the country. She is also the creator of Leave the Light On, a collaboratively created, interview-based performance and audio project about caretaking labor. She is a passionate educator and a scholar who has published widely on devised theatre and activist performance, including co-authoring Ensemble-Made Chicago: A Guide to Devised Theater, published by Northwestern University Press. For more information, please visit chloejohnston.org.