OK, Sierra

Sierra is a computer-based aide installed directly inside Davin's brain. He knows that she helps him with nearly every aspect of his daily life. He doesn't know that she is sentient and self-aware. As Davin's life continues to spiral beyond his control, Sierra becomes more assertive in an attempt to keep them alive and well. They will both learn that there is not enough space in one body for...
Sierra is a computer-based aide installed directly inside Davin's brain. He knows that she helps him with nearly every aspect of his daily life. He doesn't know that she is sentient and self-aware. As Davin's life continues to spiral beyond his control, Sierra becomes more assertive in an attempt to keep them alive and well. They will both learn that there is not enough space in one body for two fully-actualized souls.

NOTES FROM THE WRITER

This play is set in the not-too-distant future and much of it focuses on the interaction between people and their AIdes. An AIde is a digital assistant implanted directly into the base of a person’s brain. The person can hear the voice of the AIde, but does not see any physical manifestation of the assistant. AIdes have direct access to a wide array of public resources and are much more powerful than today’s computers. They are ubiquitous throughout society and are an integral part of each person’s existence. The hardware for each AIde exists in a small black box affixed to the back of everyone’s neck. Every character that is not an AIde should have one of these boxes on their neck.

The term “AIde” is pronounced just like the normal word aide. It is consistently represented in the written format as “AIde”, with the A and the I capitalized, although it’s understood that this distinction will not be discernible in any way by the audience.

Because they are not seen, an AIde should not be physically addressed by its host. Someone interacting with their AIde will look as though they are talking to themselves (e.g. like someone talking into a Bluetooth ear piece). On stage, the AIde could be represented by an actor wearing black-or-muted clothing and standing behind the host. Or anywhere else that is not in the host’s line-of-vision. AIdes do not exist in physical space. Their presence on stage is solely to serve as a visual representation of the conversations taking place between AIdes and their hosts. Each AIde can only be heard by its host. So when an AIde speaks, no other characters – other than the AIde’s host – should be reacting directly to those words.

It’s feasible that all of the AIdes except Sierra could have their lines delivered over a sound system. This would highlight the fact that they are not as advanced as Sierra and it would cut down on casting requirements for the other AIdes.

It’s vital that the AIdes do not speak in stilted or monotone patterns, stereotypical of outdated computer clichés. AIdes speak in human tones. They are capable of a wide array of inflection that mimics all aspects of human language. They don’t sound like computers. They sound like people. They are not simply computer programs. They are artificial intelligences. Their voices feature varying pitch, tone, and emotion. They are also free, at the director’s discretion, to display any range of mannerisms. While such gestures would not be seen by any of the human characters (including the AIde‘s host), it is perfectly logical that their onstage presence would feature the human-like affectations that one would expect if they were corporeal. This is especially true of Sierra.

AIdes are programmed with gender-specific personas. Men typically have “female” AIdes, and women typically have “male” AIdes.

The play is race neutral. Davin (or any other character) could be played by a black/asian/latino/whatever actor just as well as a white actor. Even the genders of the characters are somewhat malleable. For example, Loren is written as female, but could easily be changed to male. Although the piece was not written with specific races/ethnicities in mind, this doesn’t mean that the diversity of the cast could not have a distinct effect on the piece’s overall message. For example, if Sierra is a woman of color, and Davin is a WASP-y individual, there are entirely different subtexts that can be read into the play. If the genders of Davin/Sierra were flipped, it becomes almost an entirely different piece.

The play takes place in as-many-as seven different locations. If each location is assumed to require a full-on set construction, this piece would be nearly impossible to produce – even by the most well-funded of theatres. But the piece was never envisioned to require that many sets. In fact, it was written specifically with minimalist/expressionist set design in mind. Remember, the majority of the dialog in this play takes place entirely in Davin’s head. Even for those elements that do require some use of props, the atmosphere of the entire piece probably takes on much more meaning if everything is not physically built out in front of the audience’s eyes. For example, the trading scene should not require all the accoutrements of a present-day stock trader’s office. The computers of 50-years-from-now future should not require all of the same clunky setups and overbearing displays. Much of what we would normally expect to see rendered on a physical monitor would instead by projected – in virtual space – inside the person’s mind directly by their AIde.
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OK, Sierra

Recommended by

  • Kelby Siddons:
    23 Feb. 2017
    This is a gem of a play. Personally, I think it's really hard to do sci-fi well on stage when the modern audiences expecting CGI and galaxies far away. But Adam Davis has taken the phones in our pockets and the personal assistants housed inside of them to their furthest reaching, most troubling and fascinating implications in a way that is completely theatrical at the high school, local, or professional level. The drama is in nuances of language and universal yet uniquely 21st century questions of identity. Really well done and ripe for production with flexible casting.

Character Information

  • Waiter
    Any,
    Any
    ,
    Any
  • Skya
    20-50 (must be believably-close-in-age to Davin),
    Any
    ,
    Female
  • Sierra (and Sonya)
    20-50,
    Any
    ,
    Female
  • Shannon
    Any,
    Any
    ,
    Any
  • Roderick
    30-50 (must be believably-close-in-age to Davin),
    Any
    ,
    Male
  • Novia
    30-50,
    Any
    ,
    Female
  • Max
    30-50,
    Any
    ,
    Any
  • Loren
    30-60,
    Any
    ,
    Any
  • Leon
    30-60,
    Any
    ,
    Male
  • Davin
    30-50,
    Any
    ,
    Male

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Phase Eight Theater Company
    ,
    2018
  • Reading
    ,
    The Groundling Scribes
    ,
    2016
  • Reading
    ,
    The Groundling Scribes
    ,
    2015