The computer generated play

The following is a play written by myself and performed by members of the Vasudeva Service web team. It makes absolutely no pretensions to being high art, or even art for that matter, but is hopefully just a little bit funny, despite all of the in-jokes.

brainstorming

Brainstorming. Please, not Russian dancing!

The computer generated play is the very first play I have ever written, and was scripted rather hurriedly during spare moments grabbed over the course of two days, following Sri Chinmoy asking Priyadarshan and members of the Vasudeva Service web team to perform in front of him and his students.

Without a single pretension to being high art, or even particularly good (that would be here), it was instead meant to be a humourous, self-referential and highly self-deprecating attempt by a group of self-proclaimed computer nerds —almost to a man vehement non-actors—to give others a little joy at their own expense—and maybe even enjoy themselves?

Lines are kept as simple as possible, and were often delivered in fashion even simpler, and there was no blocking out or movement during the play to speak of, to compensate for which I intended the dialogue to be delivered seated, even in front of laptops, a point on which I was overruled. Also in aid of simplicity, all actors "played" themselves, and much of the (intended) humour is based on self-referential situational observations (Dhayni sells coconuts in real life, Dhyani and Atmasamarpan are both skilled programmers, and we all really were in something of a panic about performing—especially when one member initially proposed we either do Russian dancing or sing Beethoven's Silent Night in German).


The computer generated play

Cast

(as themselves) Dhyani (Germany), Atmasamarpan (Czech), Priyadarshan (Italy), John-Paul (NZ), Richard (UK), Petr (Czech), Csaba (Hungary)

Script

Richard: (bang on microphone) Microphone!

Atmasamarpan: (bang on microphone) Microphone!

John-Paul: (bang on microphone) Microphone!

Dhyani: Why do people do this?

John-Paul: I don't know, but it seems to be the normal way to start a play!

(...pause)

Richard: So have you heard, we have do a play once a week.

John-Paul: Actually, Priyadarshan and Sandesh have to. We're not going to be here next week.

Dhyani: That's lucky.

Atmasamarpan: Yes, lucky us. Poor Sandesh though, he hates being seen in public.

Richard: Yes but we shouldn't tell anyone that.

John-Paul: Talking of being seen in public, do you think anybody is going to watch our play?

Atmasamarpan: I wouldn't want to watch it if I wasn't in it.

Richard: Good point.

(phone rings)

Priyadarshan: Just a second, I have to take a call... Hello, Vasudeva Service Support... Yes... yes... You have a problem with your computer... I see... It's not working... Have you tried turning it on? O.k... you're welcome.

John-Paul: Ok. So what are we going to do for this play?

Richard: Well, first we need a script.

John-Paul: What kind of script?

Dhyani: A Java script?

Atmasamarpan: A Python script?

John-Paul: I write really bad scripts.

Dhyani: Did you write this one?

John-Paul: Er, yes...

Richard: No, we need a play script.

Dhyani: Oh, what language do you write those in?

Richard: English.

Dhyani: I don't know this programming language.

Atmasamarpan: Yes, it sounds really hard.

Richard: Hey, I've got an idea. Dhyani, do you think you could write a program to automatically create a play for us?

Atmasamarpan: Is that even possible?

Dhyani: With computers, anything is possible. I'll give it a go.

(Dhyani leaves)

Atmasamarpan: When we perform, do you think it will matter if we just read from our scripts?

John-Paul: (reading in stilted fashion from script pulled from pocket) No... I mean... nobody's going to expect.. our play... to be any good. I can't even learn songs... let alone remember lines!

Richard: Maybe we could just get some real actors to be in the play, and they can do everything for us.

John-Paul: I tried a few already...

Richard: Did you try Ketan?

John-Paul: He said we sounded too spiritual.

Atmasamarpan: Aparajita?

John-Paul: Not spiritual enough.

Richard: It's probably a long shot, but how about Mridanga?

John-Paul: He only performs if he gets to dance. I had to turn him down.

Atmasamarpan: And Sagar?

John-Paul: It's the funniest thing. I'm sure he was supposed to be in this play. But I can't find him anywhere.

Richard: So basically, nobody wants to be in Priyadarshan and Sandesh's play?

Atmasamarpan: Well, we are...

John-Paul: Yes, but we didn't have a choice!

(Dhyani arrives, he doesn't have any scripts, but does have a coconut)

Richard: Why are you carrying a coconut Dhyani?

Dhyani: I like coconuts! Would anyone like to buy one?

John-Paul: But what about the script. The script you went away to write?

Dhyani: It simply was impossible. I tried everything, but the computer only gave me rubbish.

John-Paul: So what are we going to do?

Richard: You know, computers are totally useless! Why don't we just use a story from a book?

John-Paul: A book? Like with pages?

Dhyani: I think I saw one of these once...

Atmasamarpan: Who would have thought? A story from a book!

Richard: Right-o. I've found us a story. It's called "Pulak's Gift", from "I Love Shopping", from www.srichinmoylibrary.com.

Priyadarshan: Richard—what are you doing? We are nerds! We must be punctilious! The correct address is http, colon, forward slash, forward slash, Sri Chinmoy library dot com, forward slash, I hyphen love hypen shopping, forward slash, one dot html.

(John-Paul, Dhyani, Priyadarshan and Atmasamarpan leave. Richard remains as narrator. Petr and Csaba enter and perform the story)

Richard: Today on a street in Marrakesh, a lady was trying to sell Pulak a necklace. He said he didn't need it.

Petr (lady): "You need it. Please buy it as a gift."

Richard: So he paid her two dirham and took the necklace.

Csaba (Pulak): "This is now mine. So I want to give it to you."

Richard: Then he gave her back the necklace. This is how he got rid of the lady who was bothering him...

The End

(December 2006, Antalya, Turkey)