LAWRENCE — Considered the first science fiction play, “Rossum’s Universal Robots” (“R.U.R.”) explores themes that are now staples of robot science fiction such as freedom, love, destruction and what advanced technology might mean for humanity at large. This production will have the unique feature of being interactive via social media channels during the performance.
“R.U.R.” opens Friday, Dec. 2. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 5-8 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4* at William Inge Memorial Theatre in Murphy Hall.
“'Rossum’s Universal Robots' is arguably more relevant now than it was in its own time. Čapek originally wrote 'R.U.R.' as a response and a warning to the overuse and consumption of technology after World War I,” said Blair Lawrence Yates, director and theatre graduate student. “It could easily be argued that we’re getting dangerously close to the world that Čapek imagined where people become so dependent on technology that their own humanity starts to slip away.”
Recent studies have found the average user checks smartphones for messages, emails, Facebook and other apps around 150 times per day, which averages at 54,750 times a year. This production of “R.U.R” will provide a space for optional social media engagement with smartphone tech.
“The show will provide a space where the audience can think on their own technology use and open up the debate on tech use being either a hindrance or a blessing for humanity,” Yates said.
The company includes Bronwen Capshaw, Burbank, California, senior, as Helena Glory; Michelle Cowles, Overland Park junior, as Anna; Courtney Crain, Olathe junior, as Robot Helena; Logan Redwolf Fowler Duck, Mabelvale, Arkansas, senior, as Consul Busman; Steve Litton, Miami sophomore, as Marius; Alan Martin, Falkirk, Scotland, doctoral student, as Primus; Taylor McTague, Allan, Texas, junior, as Tamora; Kaia Minter, Shawnee sophomore, as Dr. Gall; Matthew O’Brien, Kirkwood, Missouri, freshman, as Mr. Alquist; Kanad Sakhadeo, Pune, India, senior, as Dr. Hallemeier; Benjamin Schatzel, Leavenworth senior, as Harry Domin; Abbey Lynn Smith, Altamont junior, as Radius; Madison Tubbs, Colby junior, as Sulla; Graham Wells, Overland Park senior, as Mr. Fabry; Katie Sgroi, Prairie Village sophomore, stage manager; Abby Sharp, Rossville senior, assistant stage manager; Rendi Renee Doran, Stilwell junior, dramaturg; Cody Siemiatkowski, Harrisonville, Missouri, senior, media manager; Cassidy Huscher, Andover senior, assistant costume designer; and Charlotte Nodarse, Leawood junior, assistant scenic designer.
Tickets for “R.U.R.” are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling the University Theatre, (785) 864-3982, and the Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 for children. KU student tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
*Optional audience interaction via smartphone and social media available during all performances except the Sunday, Dec. 4, matinee.
The Department of Theatre is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.
Image: “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” via Wikipedia.