BY DR. LOUISE LEPAGE
Inside Robot Theatre
What happens when robots (and children) take to the stage?
7.30pm on 20 April 2016
Bulmershe Theatre, Minghella Studios, University of Reading
Click this link for the performance-lecture transcript. (A link to the film is forthcoming.)
The performance-lecture features:
A sociable industrial robot called Baxter that/who performs, amongst other characters, Hamlet, a ganster, a street walker, a tea-drinking English lady, and a butler, as well as being concretely it- or him-self;
Two children who teach the robot how to perform as a human, dancing and fighting.
And students drawn from the Department of Film, Theatre & Television at the University of Reading perform a variety of roles, from robots to gangsters.
My lecture articulates ways in which the robot performer, through its funny, provocative, or uncanny qualities, can reveal ways of being human in a posthuman world.
Question: Why am I putting a robot on stage?
Up until this moment in history, outside of science fiction, robots have not had much to do theatre. However, the new millennium has brought with it technological changes. With these, robots are becoming sociable performers in our world and moving onto our stages.
This performance-lecture forms part of The Baxter Project, research that started from the premise that the robot is inherently a performer. Debating and showing ways in which this statement might be true comprise the focus of this performance-lecture.
Content of the Performance-Lecture
About The Baxter Project
What is the posthuman?
What are robots doing on our stages?
Dehumanised workers construct the robot
Are robots performers?
From automata to automation
The robot: a cognitively estranging object (and Brecht)
The robot: from science fiction to naturalism
The robot: a worker or performer?
Baxter and his puppeteer: posthuman performance
The Baxter Interviews (film)
Who Am I?
Baxter in the City
Baxter the Butler
Mrs. Baxter and the Tea-Ladies
Patricia-Baxter: Lady of the Night
Robots as sociable performers and the importance of empathy
Key ingredients for the representation of a robot individual
Movement, head movements, facial exprfessions, voice, and narrative positioning
The role of guided projection (E. H. Gombrich)
Machine-Hamlet: To be, or not to be (film)
The Children's Scene
What will I be when I grow up?
Children, performance, and the robot
A scale of acting?
Innocence and experience
The child, the robot, and the uncanny
Sigmund Freud and The Uncanny
Uncanny Posthuman Futures? When robots construct a human
Masahiro Mori's The Uncanny Valley
The importance of the theatrical in promoting affinity for robots