In the mid 1950s, the Broadway musical My Fair Lady became the longest running musical of its time. Based on the novel Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, simple cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle is plucked from the streets of London and trained by linguistics professor Henry Higgins under a bet that he can pass the commoner off as a lady of high society after 6 months of intensive tuition.
Almost 60 years later, Gob Squad have dreamed up My Square Lady. This time Eliza is a robot called Myon from the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and together with the staff and singers of Komische Oper Berlin we want to try to pass off the robot as an opera star. We are quite excited by the idea, because in the process of training Myon we feel certain that all kinds of mind-bending questions concerning the nature of humanity might emerge: what does it actually mean to be human? What are emotions and why do we need them? Does a robot need them, too? Why do we want to have artificial intelligence? Why do we want to have opera? Does Myon need a costume?
Holding the hands of Gob Squad, Myon will pass through each department of the Komische Oper Berlin trying to understand and master the skills of musical craft and the art of emotion. The road will be long and perilous, there will be successes and failures, joy and tears (but they are unlikely to be Myon’s), and only in the summer of 2015 will we know if the experiment has come to anything when Myon will star in My Square Lady, the world’s first Reality Robot Opera.
The project will see an unlikely pairing between Gob Squad and one of Germany’s leading Opera Houses. Both partners have radically different working and production methods and are structured in completely different ways. The partners will use the encounter as an opportunity to turn “inside out” their usual means of production and investigate each other’s different working methods. Throw into the mix the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and their research with modular robot Myon and the project is set to begin…
My Square Lady is a coproduction of Gob Squad, Komische Oper Berlin and the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Funded by the Doppelpass Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Schering Foundation.