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    An A.I. Therapist Hilariously Comes to Life in Eliza Gibson’s BRAVO 25

    Amber, your A.I. therapist will see you now. If things get a little tense in today’s group session, she may suggest “we return to our breath.” But she won’t be breathing. She’s an avatar. On a TV screen. And so launches the wild ride BRAVO 25: Your A.I. Therapist Will See You Now in which queer artist Eliza Gibson draws on her real-life experience as a social worker and therapist to inhabit six humans and their A.I. avatar leader, in a support group unlike any you’ve ever seen.

    From a polyamorous lesbian awaiting the arrival of Superintelligence to a grieving savant who likes donuts, Gibson brings to life all of the characters in this rollicking, multi-layered work, named “Best Bet” by Theatre is Easy, NY, in February of this year, and winner of the ENCORE! Producers’ Award at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June last year. Gathering kudos wherever it has played, BRAVO 25: Your A.I. Therapist Will See You Now, directed by San Francisco’s dean of solo performance David Ford, is now playing at The Marsh San Francisco, with shows at 8 pm Thursdays and 5 pm Saturdays through October 27.

    “If you need to patch up your soul or restore your faith in humanity, BRAVO 25: Your A. I. Therapist Will See You Now is just the right medicine,” said Theatre is Easy, NY, while Culture Clatch proclaimed, “Gibson effortlessly fills the stage with her presence, adeptly generating pathos and comedy.” Other raves came from Hi! Drama, which called the show “A sure bet! Futuristic, yet believable,” and the Fresno Bee, which shared that “Gibson’s characters are well articulated and her stage presence is stellar.” Accolades have also come from Gibson’s own industry, with CSU Psychology Professor Karl Oswald describing the show as: “A true gem … deeply touching, hilarious & thought-provoking.”

    BRAVO 25 premiered at the Rogue Festival in Fresno in March 2017, had a weekend production in San Francisco by Beyond Words in April 2017 at Stage Werx Theatre, an extended run at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in July 2017 and a run at FRIGID New York in February 2018. An excerpt of BRAVO 25 was selected to compete in San Francisco’s PianoFight’s ShortLived competition in February 2016, and in January 2018, the show was selected for a Marsh Rising performance at The Marsh San Francisco, before opening on its main stage last month.

    Based in San Francisco, writer and solo performer Eliza Gibson was trained as a classical pianist and a drummer. She wrote and performed her first solo show, Dialogues with Madwomen, in 1995 after returning to the U.S. from Yugoslavia where she had been a humanitarian aid worker. And Now, No Flip Flops?!, also directed by David Ford, was performed at various Bay Area venues as well as in festivals in Fresno, NYC, and Providence, Rhode Island. She also wrote the narrative for Memories Do Not Burn, a documentary about war orphans and refugees featuring the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker. Eliza recently made her Theatre Rhinoceros debut in the summer production of Oedipus at Palm Springs by the Five Lesbian Brothers. A clinical social worker, Eliza led the start-up for Clinic by the Bay, a free health clinic for working uninsured adults, where she served as Executive Director until 2015. Eliza currently works at a health technology company, which may or may not have provided inspiration for BRAVO 25.

    Director David Ford has been collaborating on new and unusual theater for three decades and has been associated with The Marsh for most of that time. The San Francisco press has variously called him “the solo performer maven,” “the monologue maestro,” “the dean of solo performance,” and “the solo performer’s best friend.” Collaborators include Geoff Hoyle, Echo Brown, Brian Copeland, Charlie Varon, Marilyn Pittman, Rebecca Fisher, Wayne Harris and Marga Gomez. As a director, Mr. Ford has directed both solo and ensemble work regionally at The Public Theater, Second Stage, Theatre for the New City (New York City), Highways (Los Angeles) and Woolly Mammoth (Washington, D.C.) as well as at theaters around the Bay Area including Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company.

    Bay Area comedians Irene Tu, Julia Jackson, Maureen Langan, Abas Idris and Jackie Keiliiaa open some of the shows. And for those wanting to take a deeper dive into themes from BRAVO 25, particularly our relationship with technology, human’s capacity to change, and the current state and future of Artificial Intelligence, Gibson has scheduled interactive free talkbacks for the audience following select performances. The roster of speakers from San Francisco arts, technology and mental health communities includes:

    October 6: Dr. Susan Maxwell, Clinical Psychologist at the PTSD Clinic at San Francisco VAMC;
    October 11: Demos of WOEBOT, the mental health chatbot and a discussion with WOEBOT CEO/Founder Alison Darcy about the future and ethical considerations of A.I. therapy;
    October 13: David Ford, director and published playwright, to discuss the making of BRAVO 25;
    October 25: Tyler Schnoebelen (PhD, Linguistics, Stanford University) A.I., machine learning, and emoji expert.

    BRAVO 25: Your A.I. Therapist Will See You Now is one of the fall’s major attractions at the Mission district’s theatre gem, The Marsh. Launched in 1989 as “a breeding ground for new performance” by Founder and Artistic Director Stephanie Weisman, the theatre now annually hosts more than 600 performances of 175 shows across the company’s two venues in San Francisco and Berkeley. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for “solo performances that celebrate the power of storytelling at its simplest and purest,” The Marsh was also named one of the Bay Area’s best intimate theaters by The East Bay Times, which proclaimed it “one of the most thriving solo theaters in the nation. The live theatrical energy is simply irresistible.”

    BRAVO 25: Your A.I. Therapist Will See You Now is at The Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco. Shows are 8 pm Thursdays and 5 pm Saturdays, now through October 27. Tickets ($20–$35 sliding scale, $55–$100 reserved) are available at 415-285-3055 and online at