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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Robots on stage

Credit: Seinendan, Sayonara
The Japanese theater company Seinendan and Ishiguro Laboratory at Osaka University are exploring new dimensions of human-robot-interaction on stage, a new field involving a fusion of theater, arts and science.
The first full-scale robot-human theater production "I, Worker" in 2008 featured two robots named Takeo and Momoko and a young couple, the Mayamas, who live with two robots. While Momoko plays an essential role in the family through her work, Takeo suffers mental illness and loses his motivation to work. This play casts a question of what work means to us as humans, by portraying a robot that cannot work, although by definition, robots were made to work.
The short play Sayonara tells a story of a young girl facing terminal illness and her gentle caretaker android who reads poetry to her. But when the androids mechanics go awry, the meaning of life and death to humans and robots comes into question. Sayonara asks challenging and provocative questions about the essence of life, death and what it means to be human. The interaction between actor and robot provides a compelling narrative and exudes a powerful philosophical tension.

In 2013 the robots will be on tour in the U.S. and on stage in Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH),  January 31 – February 2, Philadelphia Live Arts (Philadelphia, PA), February 15-16, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (Burlington, VT), February 21-22, Canadian Stage (Toronto, Canada), February 26 – March 2, and Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA), March 8-9. More info here.

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