Hai-Ting Chinn from ANNIE DORSEN, YESTERDAY MORNING at the McGuire Theater

Interview: Hai-Ting Chinn by ANNIE DORSEN, YESTERDAY MORNING at the McGuire Theater

Yesterday morning is a collaboration between human artists and algorithms. Inspired by a type of machine learning model known as evolutionary computation, Yesterday morning conveys a unique experience of the complexity and unpredictability of the present in contrast to the known past and the imagined future.

Starting with The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” algorithms are slowly turning that song into “Tomorrow” from the musical annie. Every night the spatial and musical path from the past to the future is different; Neither the singers, the creative team nor the audience knows which way we are going to go.

The piece creates a confusing sequence of alternations: between man and machine, between sound and sense, between the recognizable and the completely unknown. After all, it’s a play about the passage of time, about progress and regression, about the loss of one world and the optimistic creation of another.

We talk to actress Hai-Ting about her role and the production.

How does it feel to have live audiences and performances again?

It feels amazing and life-affirming on the one hand. Unfortunately I ended up with Covid in March when we had our first unmasked singing gig. It just goes to show that this pandemic is not over yet.

What inspired you to keep performing?

I started singing as a childhood activity in a youth choir and thought I would go into science or writing, but slipped into opera in college and then I started getting jobs in theater and other gigs and I couldn’t say no. I was able to build a career in opera, theatre, music and more. I feel like people were enjoying what I was doing and it felt great to bring joy to people.

Interview: Hai-Ting Chinn by ANNIE DORSEN, YESTERDAY MORNING at the McGuire Theater

How does this role compare to other roles you have played?

It’s totally different from any other production I’ve done. It’s basically playing a complicated video game in front of an audience.

How did you develop your role?

The performers developed it together with Annie Dorsen, the computer generator, a composer.

Did you face any challenges with this production?

The scenario of this show is the challenge to the performer.

How was it working with the cast and creative team?

Amazing and beyond what it is in a show, it’s really more of a collaboration. It’s a very small cast and we all shaped what came out of it. It’s more of a collaborative theater model.

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing this production?

It’s like looking at an abstract painting, so everyone may have the perspective, but I hope people will see things that speak to them. The aspect of time and the way it has shifted during the pandemic makes it an interesting performance piece.

What are your favorite local spots?

Owamni from Souix Cheif was an amazing restaurant, the food was amazing!

Thank you Hai-Ting for your time!

Photos courtesy of Hai-Ting and Mara Baranova

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