ERLNMYR > Shows > Improbotics

If I were intro­du­ced to a show like this as a kid, I would defi­ni­te­ly have paid more atten­ti­on to sci­en­ce class.”

Phoe­nix Remix, Brigh­ton Frin­ge, 2019

What do words like ‘art’, ‘cre­a­ti­vi­ty’ and ‘humour’ mean in the era of smart tech­no­lo­gy and self-learning algo­rithms? Can a robot ever make the­a­tre and if so, what does this non-human the­a­tre look like? Let’s see what Alex — the robot of Impro­bo­tics — makes of it.

Alt­hough our robot starts off by per­for­ming in the show, the Impro­bo­tics play­ers take it one step fur­ther rather quick­ly. All per­for­mers are wea­ring an ear­pie­ce with which they can recei­ve Alex’s lines direct­ly into their ears. When Alex takes con­trol of the show like an invi­si­ble direc­tor and starts pup­pe­tee­ring one of the play­ers as a ‘cyborg’, the audien­ce some­ti­mes doesn’t even know who is con­trol­led by arti­fi­ci­al intel­li­gen­ce and who is using their own free will to speak.

Impro­bo­tics was devel­o­ped by com­pu­ter sci­en­tists Pio­tr Mirow­ski (UK) and Kory Mathew­son (Cana­da). They built an arti­fi­ci­al­ly intel­li­gent chat­bot based on models of how lan­gu­a­ge works. The­se models are cre­a­ted by a com­pu­ter learning on huge amounts of text with 1,5 bil­li­on para­me­ters and a data­set of 8 mil­li­on web­pa­ges. This soft­wa­re can cre­a­te text by pre­dic­ting words based on all the pre­vious­ly used words. By fine­tu­ning the­se models on the sub­tit­les of more than 100,000 movies, Alex can not only gene­ra­te words into sen­ten­ces, but also talk in dialogues.

Cast: Ris­hi Pan­chasa­ra, Char­lot­te De Met­se­nae­re, Jona Den Aan­trek­ker, Gil­les Del­vaulx, Kel­ly Aga­thos, Ben Hart­wig, Ann Claes, Maga­li Minet, Alain Rin­ck­hout and Ben Ver­hoe­ven (in chan­ging com­bi­na­ti­ons)
Direc­tor: Ben Ver­hoe­ven 
Sce­no­grap­hy: Robin Decos­ter 
Dra­ma­tur­gy: Imre Spoor 
Cos­tu­me design: Lot­te Coo­ls 
Illu­stra­ti­ons: Koen Van Den Eeck­hout
Tech­ni­ci­an: Jes­se Steurs
Tech­no­lo­gi­cal sup­port: Tho­mas Win­ters and Sebas­ti­aan Jan­sen
Con­cept: the Impro­bo­tics con­sor­ti­um, con­sis­ting of Kory Mathew­son, Pio­tr Mirow­ski, Jen­ny Elf­ving and Ben Ver­hoe­ven

Impro­bo­tics is avai­la­ble in Dut­ch and English. It’s an inspi­ring show for orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and com­pa­nies, as well as a school show for the 3rd to 6th year of seconda­ry school.

More infor­ma­ti­on? Send an e‑mail to (schools) or (orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and companies). 

This show is sup­por­ted by the Depar­te­ment EWI of the Fle­mish Government.

This show fea­tu­res a robot that was spon­so­red by EZ-Robot.