Wirehead Probes Impact of IQ Implants

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Sci-fi rarely finds its way into theatrical venues — how, after all, can CGI-deprived stage productions do justice to futuristic environments, weird science and hypertech wizardry? The new Wirehead play hopes to get around the quandary with a low-cost high concept.

Staged by Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles, Wirehead goes live Saturday astride an intriguing premise: When an intracranial implant that boosts human intelligence becomes available to anyone with the money to pay for the surgery, rich people get superbright while poor folks get left in the dust. The IQ divide leads to the brink of civil war between resentful normals and the artificially enhanced “wirehead” class of geniuses.

“Intracranial implants, which will increase human mental capacity exponentially, could become a reality in the next half-century, according to futurists such as Ray Kurzweil,” said Wirehead playwright Logan Brown in an e-mail to Wired.com. “As the subject matter of a play, implants are a perfect choice because they require no expensive makeup or costume design, and the fact that they are invented in the ‘near’ future allows the set design to be more naturalistic (i.e. inexpensive). The effects of such technology on the human mind can be represented completely in the acting, dialogue and direction.”

Wirehead runs through March 14 in Los Angeles at Stage 52, 5299 West Washington Blvd. Show times: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m, Sunday 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. Information at 1-800-413-8669.

Josh Worth illustration courtesy Echo Theater Company

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