From (web)page to stage

4 May 2023

Using AI tools in the theatre classroom

by Keriann O’Rourke

There’s a new(-ish) kid on the block and it’s already making a huge impact on the world. AI tools are popping up everywhere these days and are pretty impressive in their capabilities to produce crafted content for users. The IBO has already stated that they intend to embrace this new technology as well as many theatre companies and artists who are excitedly testing the waters with how to use it to create new work.

It’s made me think: “How might you use AI tools in the theatre classroom?” and I decided to put ChatGPT to the test. Here’s what it came up with…

ChatGPT, as a language model, can potentially be used in theatre in a variety of ways:

Scriptwriting: ChatGPT can be used to generate dialogue for plays or other theatrical productions. The model can be trained on existing scripts or other sources of dialogue to generate new lines or even entire scenes.

Improvisation: ChatGPT can be used to provide prompts or suggestions for improvisational theatre. Performers could ask the model for ideas or phrases to incorporate into their scenes, or even have a conversation with the model as a character in the scene.

Character development: ChatGPT could be used as a tool for developing characters in a play or other production. By feeding the model information about a character’s backstory, motivations, and personality traits, the model could generate dialogue or even monologues that reflect that character’s unique voice.

Rehearsal tool: ChatGPT could be used as a rehearsal tool for actors to practice their lines. By having the model read lines for a character, actors could practice their responses in real time and receive feedback on their delivery.

Audience interaction: ChatGPT could be incorporated into interactive theatre productions, where the audience members could ask the model questions or give it prompts that could influence the direction of the play. This could create a unique and engaging experience for the audience.

Not bad, ChatGPT. That took it about 10 seconds to produce this list – it’s not extensive but it is a pretty good start and as you begin to Google each of these suggestions you can find artists who are starting to explore these ideas.

Text-based AI isn’t the only new technology available to us. With the unique experiences that a theatre classroom can be home to, I felt it was time to do a bit of investigating into how one might move from (web)page to stage. And I’ve found that along with these text-based tools, visual AI explorations are also emerging.

I’ve come across heaps of interesting ideas – from AI-developed set, sound, lighting and costume designs, to image creation, to choreography – technology certainly is being put to the test by the creatives of the world.

All this digging into AI has taken me down quite the rabbit hole… and I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds.

So I’d love to know… are you embracing AI tools in your theatre practice?