CNR 2015: Live: Vive Les Robots (DNK): The RUR-Play: Prologue

In the evening on the 26 November 2015 festival visitors of the opening of the 4th edition of "Cafe Neu Romance" can discover a completely original concept of the prologue to the play RUR at the Gallery of the National Technical Library (Galerie NTK).

It will be the first time in the whole history of mankind when the famous play by Czech writer Karel Capek, in which the word ROBOT was mentioned for the first time for the world audience, when it premièred on the 25 January 1921 at the National Theater in Prague, will be played exclusively by robots.

They will play both robots and human figures. In about half an hour prologue atotal of nine robots, assembled from the robotics kits LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, semi autonomous and partially managed via the programmes in the computer, will be introduced.

Until now, it was a game where robots were played by real people, or by real people and robots. Now it is the other way round. Christian Gjørret, the main organizer of Cafe Neu Romance and leader of Vive Les Robots! came up with this idea back in 2012 to the earlier LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Manager Steven Canvin from LEGO, who accepted the proposal. And during 2015 the concept and idea of Christian Gjørret came to reality thanks to students of the RUR team from Gymnázium Jeseník in Czech Repubic.

The realization of this play by Karel Capek using just robots was a big challenge for the RUR-Team. Building robots seemed simple due to the fact that these robots were made from LEGO MINDSTORMS, which the RUR-Team had a lot of experience with. However,a problem soon arose. How to make a robot from one set which would not only resemble a human being, but also fit the characteristics of a character from Capek's play? At the same time, we wanted each robot to look different. It taught the students to look for different and unusual constructions.

"When the robots were assembled, it was a time for the direction which was led by the drama teacher at Gymnázium Jeseník. He has got an experience with directing theatre plays. It helped the RUR-Team to understand time and spatial proportions of the play, too. The students also learned to understand the play as a whole, not only individual scenes.

Another nut to crack were the sounds in the game. The robots should use our voices,however the fact, that everything must have been in English and with a right intonation so the audience would understand the behaviour of different characters, wasquite difficult. At this stage, we again benefited from the experience of our director", tells a a science teacher from Gymnázium Jeseník, and continue:

"When we thought that the only task ahead us was to write a few little programmes,we realized that it was not that easy. We wanted to avoid the situation in which the robots would disturb each other. It also must have been clear who is speaking and also synchronize the voices well.

In the end, we had to make props and costumes. Under the guidance of our artist Jirí Barton, background, which represents the time in which the play was written, was made. It does not attract much attention so the audience has a chance to fully concentrate to the play. The original play in which robots would wear costumes, was not made into reality. We just let the robots wear bits and pieces of clothing which would highlight the specific features of the character, but also allow the audience to see that the play is played by the mechanical robots."

It was Paul Selver and Nigel Playfair translation of this play from 1923 that was used. Like it was the voices of the members of RUR team that were used for the robot actors in this play.

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[image source: Gymnázium Jeseník]
[source: Vive Les Robots!]

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Cafe Neu Romance 2015:


RUR Play

R.U.R. team is from the Grammar School in Jeseník and the Rainbow Leisure Centre Jeseník team consisting girls and boys aged from 13 to 99+ years.

RUR: Prologue
The Prologue of R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) by RUR-team will be performed three times during Cafe Neu Romance (26-28 November 2015) at Galerie NTK.

Galerie NTK
Technická 6
16080 Prague.