This was one of the big sensations of the Festival off d’avignon last summer. In The Turing Machine, a piece very engaging and upbeat, the talented Benoit Solès gives body and voice to Alan Turing. The british mathematician, theorist of the computer, was sentenced for “insulting public morals” and forced to chemical castration because of his homosexuality, illegal in the Uk until 1967. Then he was rehabilitated and pardoned in 2013 by queen Elizabeth II. Alongside Amaury de Crayencour, Benoit Solès embodies a Turing-sensitive, illuminated, in a Rain Man sense of humor is cleaner, more engaging than the Turing film Imitation Game released in 2013. The staging of Tristan Petitgirard is millimétrée and panting. The costumes we are looking at a Manchester concern. On the occasion of the premiere of the play in Paris, back on the mathematician out hand in hand with Benoit Solès, author and actor of the room.
The Point : Why this attraction to Alan Turing ?
Benoit Solès : I learned of its existence in 2012, so before the release of the film Imitation Game. I was interested in the symbolism of the page and stumbled upon Wikipedia on the apple of Alan Turing. Then, I discovered this as a mathematician and inventor of the computer that broke the codes of the Enigma machine used by German submarines during the Second world War. He committed suicide while crunching an apple after being convicted of homosexuality. I found it unbelievable that this man type is not universally known. Turing has been rehabilitated after a procedure started by a mathematician and gay activist. In England, the law says that if 50,000 citizens ask a question to the government, the government must answer. At that time, Gordon Brown apologized to the british government in recognising that the mathematician had been unjustly treated, in spite of all he had brought to the country. But he refused the rehabilitation, sheltering behind the law of the time that condemned homosexuality. It was only in 2013 due to queen Elizabeth II. I wanted to do something about him, animated both by a desire to quasi-activist say that he has been treated unfairly and want to do a story for the theater.
It is true that the mathematician is a sacred character…
beyond his legacy for mathematics, it is a hero absolute. Someone tragic and romantic. He has this ability to see things before the other. Turing manages to solve before all the world what is called “the insoluble problem” in mathematics, because it comes without academicism, with a new look. This is both a genius pure, a kind of brain ultimate and a child, someone quite simple and a little unsuited to the life in society. In short, it is a mixture of Forrest Gump, and Mozart of mathematics. A great guy who runs fast and, at the same time, which is iconoclastic, that is different. It has a high purity, a form of unconsciousness. But what Turing said at the time is regarded by the world as absurd and dangerous. When Turing speaks of ” machine thinking “, the company’s response is to say that he is crazy. To say that a machine can think, calls into question the science and the religion. It is like God. And the company reserve the spell it done to the prophets : you shut them and then to castrate.
Can we say that he has created artificial intelligence ?
Alan Turing in the 1930s.
© leemageDans an article called “calculable numbers” and in his work from 1935, there is the idea of a universal machine capable of performing multiple tasks. It really is the theoretical idea, the concept of the computer. In the years 40 and 50, Turing said that this machine would be able to learn from its own mistakes to progress in chess and, one day, be unbeatable. And even that it might one day be able to deceive a human being that the respectively to find out if it is a machine or a human being. This is the famous Turing test is a proposal for a test of artificial intelligence based on the ability of a machine to imitate the human conversation. Again, it was said to him that it was impossible. Yet, today, a computer can. In it, Alan Turing has been truly a visionary. It is perhaps for this reason that the piece resonates so loudly today. There is also in him a curiosity to understand how nature is programmed. He had recognized in the nature of the mathematical code, as well as the famous Fibonacci sequence, which corresponds to the ordering in the spiral of the shell of the snail… And if there is a reason, it may be that there is a program behind. Turing tried to find an answer and, somehow, he was looking for God.
The sides of Amaury de Crayencour (left), Benoit Solès embodies a Turing-sensitive, illuminated.
© Fabienne Rappeneau
On stage, you play as a Turing who stutters. It was really the case ?
Yes, his stuttering is completely proved. There are no filmed images of Alan Turing, and quite a few photos. But there are letters listed in the biography by Andrew Hodges release in 1983. Since his rehabilitation, all the archives around the Uk have been scanned and are available online. His friends speak of his character traits. For example, he dressed as a tramp – he was always very dirty with stains on his clothes. In social relations, he was often moved, it was hard to look people in the eyes, was sometimes a question with another question, and was suffering from a kind of stuttering. He also had a laugh very strange that I reproduce on stage. This behavior is very well described by Hodges in his biography.
also Read Alan Turing : a student draft to ideas “approximate” !
in Addition to your piece on Turing, another piece is played currently on Galileo*. Mathematics, the sciences in general, seem to be for the theater a continent to explore…
Yes, and this is paradoxical ! There are many attractions in this discipline, which may seem arid, technical, scientific, and which could often be the antithesis of the theater, which wants to incarnate, organic, sensory and emotional. There are among mathematicians of the complex characters and exceptional that would make great movies. Today, we could do feature films on Stephen Hawking and Reeves. These are people who, by their intellectual power, are fascinating. In these characters that may appear to be anti-theatrical, there is a great wealth. They have something that can make them endearing. This is what I saw in Turing : a mathematician and very human.
At the theatre Michel, in Paris, from Thursday, 4 October, Tuesday to Saturday 21 hours, Sunday to 16 hours. 30 to 40 euros.
* ” Galilee, the mechanic “, the theater of The white Queen.
On the same subject This mysterious mr. Turing