In 2017, the writer Mark O’Connell published a book about the transhumanist movement, To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death. Encountering an extraordinary set of people keen to use technology to push the human body past its physical and mortal limits, Mark explored the scientific and ethical questions behind a quest to free human beings from our corporeal cages. At last year’s Dublin Theatre Festival, Mark, along with directors Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd, premiered a theatrical adaptation of his book. At Ireland’s Edge, Mark and Bush spoke to Síobhra Quinlan about turning this unusual book into an even more unusual play. Their discussion begins with an excerpt from To Be a Machine (Version 1.0) starring Jack Gleeson.
Mark O’Connell is the author of Notes from an Apocalypse, and To Be a Machine, which was awarded the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, the 2019 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and The Guardian. He lives in Dublin with his family.
Bush Moukarzel is co-artistic director of Dead Centre, a theatre company based in Dublin. He works as co-director and co-author on all their productions. Their first project Souvenir was created for Dublin Fringe Festival 2012 followed by LIPPY which was winner of the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Production, a Fringe First, a Herald Angel, a Total Theatre Award and two OBIE Awards. Chekhov’s First Play premiered in Dublin in 2015, and has toured extensively around the world. Hamnet premiered at Schaubühne in F.I.N.D. Festival in April 2017 and opened in Dublin in September 2017. It has toured to BAM (New York), Brisbane Festival, Noordezon Festival and Southbank Centre (London). Since 2017, then have created four more original shows: Shakespeare’s Last Play for Schaubühne, Berlin, The Interpretation of Dreams for Burgtheater, Vienna, Beckett’s Room, which opened at The Gate Theatre, Dublin in 2019 and, most recently, To Be A Machine (Version 1.0) in a co-production with Dublin Theatre Festival.