Here’s an interview with Erik Mueller, writer and performer of The Computer That Loved, a 30-minute solo show about a computer scientist who finds creative inspiration in his romantic ups and downs.
Joel: What is your show about?
Erik: It’s the story of my life condensed into 30 minutes. As a child I dreamed of finding love and creative fulfillment — high aspirations! I was swept up by computer programming. I wanted to create artificially intelligent computers. I went to school to do this. I wrote a bunch of AI programs. One of them generated daydreams about love and relationships. I helped create the Watson system that beat humans on Jeopardy. But computers are still far from being intelligent. They can’t even understand simple stories. What I didn’t understand as a kid was that computers get in the way of human relationships. Now I find myself less interested in computers and more interested in people. Every copy of an AI program is more or less identical to the others. Every person is unique — someone special and precious.
Why a one-person show?
I wanted to challenge myself, and boy have I done that! I’ve always loved this art form, especially the work of Laurie Anderson, David Cale, and Michael Peppe. I’ve been going to solo performances for a long time, but I never dreamed I would have the nerve to do one myself. Then I took classes on storytelling with Margot Leitman, Christine Renee Miller, Matt Hoverman, and others. I performed Uta Hagen’s solo acting exercises at HB Studio, and I liked the results. One thing led to another, and here I am!
How did you develop the show?
I started working on it in 2014. I went through a process that involved developing hours and hours of material. Eventually I got it down to 30 minutes. I did a reading of it in 2015 at Theaterlab in New York, and the audience really seemed to like it. Now I’m working with an excellent director, Clancey Yovanovich, who is coaching me through the whole process.
What was the last project you worked on?
My last project was Wall Geek. It’s a web sitcom about geeks who think they want to make a ton of money on Wall Street, but they’re too nice and end up using the financial system to make people happier.
What excites you about participating in the 2016 Capital Fringe Festival?
I’m looking forward to meeting all the artists and audiences. The Argonaut is a perfect space for my show. It has a cozy feel to it. I can’t wait!
The Computer That Loved is playing at The Argonaut – 1433 H Street NE, in Washington DC 20002.
Friday July 8, 2016 at 9:15 PM
Friday July 15, 2016 at 9:00 PM
Sunday July 17, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Saturday July 23, 2016 at 9:45 PM
Sunday July 24, 2016 at 2:00 PM
PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS HERE, OR CALL (866) 811-4111.
Check erikmueller.me/TheComputerThatLoved/ for the latest information.