Adam Nathaniel Davis

Adam Nathaniel Davis

I write poetry, sci-fi novels, plays, computer code, mattress warning labels, graffiti, infomercials, and the instructions on the back of shampoo containers. I'm better known to some as the inventor of puppies and free-beer Fridays. My writing skill is surpassed only by my expertise in gambling, drinking, and divorce.

Plays

  • 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.
  • Into the Swamp
    Roman and Gilson are new interns under the White House Chief of Staff. Or are they? They increasingly come to question who they are, and how they ever got here in the first place. They are hopelessly locked out of the main story – overtly made to feel “other”. And yet they find themselves falling into the same mental traps of the Administration. As they wrestle with questions of race, ethics, and Establishment...
    Roman and Gilson are new interns under the White House Chief of Staff. Or are they? They increasingly come to question who they are, and how they ever got here in the first place. They are hopelessly locked out of the main story – overtly made to feel “other”. And yet they find themselves falling into the same mental traps of the Administration. As they wrestle with questions of race, ethics, and Establishment politics, they will either escape, or they will become indistinguishable from those around them.

    NOTES FROM THE WRITER

    Although they are two separate characters, in some ways Roman and Gilson can be thought of as two sides of the same coin. They are more like colleagues than friends, and can be occasionally antagonistic. Throughout the play, Roman and Gilson are observers (“in the wings”) to a greater drama taking place around them. But they are only allowed to participate in it tangentially. They are locked out of the main story.

    Similarly, Roman and Gilson are gender-neutral. The names Roman and Gilson are last names. The leads are never referred to by their first names. They could be two men. Two women. Or one man and one woman. Again, this is left to the theatre/director to determine during casting.

    There are only four speaking roles in the entire play. However, there is another group of characters that play a key role in this piece. This group is referred to here as The Lobbyists. They are critical to the mood and overall impact of the play. “The Lobbyists” is a moniker used only in this script. They are never referred to as such by the other characters in the play. In fact, they are never acknowledged, nor referred to at all by anyone else in the play. There are some key rules to observe with regard to The Lobbyists:

    • They are only referred to generically here as a group. The number of actors that make up The Lobbyists is entirely up to the theatre/director. There should probably be at least four or five of them. But the “role” could certainly accommodate as many as two dozen. It’s understood that the exact number will be largely influenced by the resources of the theatre/troupe that is producing this play.
    • They must never speak. They are utterly silent.
    • Although they are silent, this in no way implies they are subdued. Quite the opposite. Their roles are essentially pantomimed. They can-and-should be expressive with their gestures/actions.
    • They are often in scenes with Roman/Gilson/Hamlin, but they never interact directly with any of the speaking characters. Their activities take place with no regard to Roman, Gilson, or Hamlin. And Roman/Gilson/Hamlin will usually speak/act as though The Lobbyists don’t exist at all onstage.
    • In fact, they should typically be blocked in a way that is physically removed from Roman/Gilson/Hamlin. It’s assumed that, for most scenes, The Lobbyists will be near the back of the stage (upstage), distant from the main actors. Their internal dramas are taking place, quite literally, in the background. Conversely, the main actors will be speaking as though The Lobbyists don’t even exist and they will typically be positioned near the very front of the stage (downstage).
    • The Lobbyists should be, as much as is possible, generic in nature and somewhat identical or indistinguishable from each other. I picture them as having whitewash face paint with identical-or-very-similar white garments. It’s understood that the degree to which The Lobbyists can be made to be truly identical will depend largely on the resources of the theatre/troupe producing the play. But anything that can be done to remove their individuality will be helpful. They are the living, breathing, real-time ghosts of the Administration. They are the physical embodiment of the zeitgeist.
    • They can be comprised of any combination of gender or race – although, again, every effort should be made to make them look identical.
    • It may be effective if they all wore identical white masks.
    • It’s entirely feasible that in some, or even all, of their scenes, The Lobbyists’ movements could be coordinated. Choreographed, even. However, this is not a requirement of the piece and is left entirely to the discretion of the director.
    • Depending upon the whims of the director, these phantasms could come off as baffling, comical, or downright creepy. I leave it to the capable skills of those producing this play to determine which direction to take…

    This play is written with minimalist/abstract sets in mind. Roman’s and Gilson’s experiences are almost dream-like. They are witness to a world in which they are not necessarily welcome. Throughout the play, they will come to consciously understand their own disconnection from their surroundings. Elaborate attempts to lay out their environment in excruciating detail will only undermine that effect. The disaffected interplay of The Lobbyists will only be enhanced by a stage that challenges the theatergoer to fill in the gaps. Several references are made to the Washingtonian analogy of a “swamp”. Less formal sets, with more ethereal/hazy surroundings will enhance this effect. This is especially true during the final scene, when Roman and Gilson are, quite literally, lost in a fog.

  • The Marionette
    Jinny lives in an assisted-living facility. She's wise, intelligent, head-strong, cantankerous... and lonely. Her son has stopped visiting her and she hasn't seen her grandchildren in years. The only tie to her past is Lucy, the senior-companionship android that was designed by her son and assigned to keep her company. Jinny's reluctant relationship with Lucy exposes the strains in her own fractured family.
  • Social Inquisition
    What happens when someone is truly held accountable for their activities on social media? What culpability does someone bear for the hate and lies supported in their online circles? Adrian is thrust into a rude awakening - dragged, literally, into a trial before a court that sees everything that has occurred on the interwebs.
  • Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot
    Tom returns to his childhood home in Minnesota and visits his old friend Harold during the Christmas season. Harold is even saltier and crankier than Tom remembers him. When Tom tries to cheer up his friend by decorating the Christmas tree with a box of nostalgic ornaments, he realizes exactly why Harold is so cranky.