Ethan Lipton is a writer working in theater and music. His narrative song cycles No Place to Go (Obie Award) and The Outer Space (Lucille Lortel Award nominee) were developed with his bandmates, Eben Levy, Ian Riggs and Vito Dieterle, and produced by the Public Theater in Joe’s Pub. Lipton’s produced plays include Tumacho, Red-Handed Otter, Luther, Goodbye April, Hello May, 100 Aspects of the Moon, and Meat. Plays are published by Concorde Theatricals. He won the 2023 Kleban Prize for most promising librettist, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Herb Alpert/MacDowell Fellow, a Clubbed Thumb associate artist, a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Playwrights Realm Page One fellow, and a Working Farm Fellow at SPACE on Ryder Farm. He has received grants and commissions from the Public Theater, Media Art Xploration, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Civilians, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons, True Love Productions, Barrington Stage Company, the New York Public Library, and the Onassis Foundation. With his band, Ethan Lipton & his Orchestra, he has released four studio albums and played in New York and beyond, including at the SFJazz Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, Théâtre de la Ville, the Gate Theatre in London, the Pavilion Theatre inDublin, and the Troubadour.
We Are Your Robots
We Are Your Robots is a show Ethan Lipton is creating with his band, Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra and the director Leigh Silverman. In this piece Lipton’s bandmates of 17 years (Eben Levy on guitar, Vito Dieterle on saxophone, and Ian Riggs on bass) and Lipton play robots who look and sound just like them. They’ve come to the theater for a demonstration arranged by their engineers to answer the question, “What do humans want from their machines?” As narrator, Lipton’s character will try to gain the audience’s trust, something all machines must do. He will try to prove to the audience that his robot band possesses intelligence and consciousness, that they’re reliable, and that they won’t hurt the audience or steal their jobs. The piece will explore brain mapping, violence, caretaking, sex, and many other issues related to artificial intelligence, robotics, and humanity. The robots will play with the concept of the singularity, a theory that says machines and humans will someday occupy a single physical form. Ultimately, a thornier question will trump the one that begins the show: “What do humans want for themselves?”