The live art of theater remains curiously missing from ALife art history, despite the fact that its very existence is poised on the cusp of the living and the artificial, and on the modeling of life as artefact—what can be called the containment-versus-continuity dilemma. How far one seeks to affirm autonomy of the creative artwork or, in contrast, how far one seeks to affirm its continuity with its supposed real-life contexts is a question that has forever haunted theater, and that has naturally come to haunt ALife and ALife arts. Investigation of the boundary separating observers from modeled systems is as core to research into the live art of theater as to ALife research. This brief article seeks to open up discussion on links between ALife, ALife art, and the live art of theater, through key thematic threads that traverse these domains: their modeling of universes, the open or closed nature of the resultant modeled systems, and their implications with respect to observers, definitions, and instantiations of life regarding non-life or death as well as attributions of liveness to emergent synthetic biology and metamaterials.

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