Another Language: Mind over machine
Theater piece • Another Language Performing Arts Company explores conflict and technology.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For Elizabeth and Jimmy Miklavcic, the computer is the elephant in the room that few in the theater world want to talk about.

So when the wife-and-husband team behind Another Language Performing Arts Company set sights on their next theater piece, it was time to look past the monitor and consider a deeper context of how technology molds our lives.

"One of the things I learned in computer science is that the only physical law the discipline obeys is on and off," Jimmy Miklavcic said. "Everything else is open to interpretation, and is therefore an art form."

The result was "Duel*Ality," a surprisingly compact, 30-minute theater performance piece. The husband and wife team composed it during a two-year period in which they continually mused on technology's role in modern life and, by extension, its role in relationships.

"Duel*Ality" is self-directed by the couple, who also act its two roles. It's self-staged and designed, too, with all audio and video cues created by the couple. Fittingly, it will be performed at the University of Utah's Intermountain Networking and Scientific Computation Center. And this being Another Language Production, it spins off tangential and accompanying themes like a lathe working overtime.

The play opens with a slide-show introduction to its various themes, set to the soundtrack of a raunchy guitar. Then the Miklavcics "get to work," as Elizabeth describes it, firing up the computer as do millions around the world before a day's work.

Next, through various turns in dialogue and scene, what becomes a wrestling match with technology becomes a wrestling match with interpersonal relationships. Fingers are pointed. Resolution between the characters — Duel and Ality, as played by Elizabeth and Jimmy—comes, but only after struggles to untether themselves from the real world, then to the computer world, and back again.

The play's origins grew out of Jimmy's knowledge of computers, in specific, and the couple's experience with technology in general.

"We knew we were on the right track after reading reports about how people go through withdrawal-like symptoms when they withdraw from Internet access — especially social networking sites," Elizabeth Miklavcic said. "People who can't stop looking at news feeds? That's kind of crazy."

But it provides a rich context in which to explore how people define themselves in terms of body and soul, matter and spirit. It also considers the mathematical duality of interchangeable theorems, as well as the locations in planes of projective geometry.

The couple say they have no dread of technology or computers. Where the performance of "Duel*Ality" gathers dramatic steam is when the technological presence reaches saturation points, and human consciousness begins to react under pressure.

"You have choices to ride the wave, and engage, to ignore it and look away, or unplug," the Miklavcics recite, in unison.

bfulton@sltrib.com —

Duel*Ality

Another Language Performing Arts Company presents a "telematic" cinema performance.

When • Feb. 25 and 26, 7 p.m.; Feb. 27, 4 p.m.; March 4 and 5, 7 p.m.; March 6, 4 p.m.

Where • Intermountain Networking and Scientific Computation Center, 155 S. 1452 East, University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City.

Info • $5-$7. Call 801-531-9419 for more information, or visit www.anotherlanguage.org