Robot Actors Debut Alongside Human Stars

Robot Actors Debut Alongside Human Stars

Oriza Hirata of Japan's Seinendan Theater Company, partnering with the Osaka University Robot Theater Project, stage 2 short plays in which anthropomorphic machines play major roles.

Betsy Mead
  • 20 february 2013

Residents of Toronto, Canada and the US East Coast are in for an innovative theater experience, if they are lucky enough to live in one of the spots where Japanese playwright Orizata Hirata’s robo plays will feature. The director of the Seinendan Theater Company has written two short pieces to be acted out by robots and humans together. ‘Sayonara’ details how a dying woman communicates with a robot to find depth and substance in her life, while ‘I, Worker,’ focuses on a man whose wife has died, and a ‘robot servant’ suffering from an extreme case of the blues (yes, apparently robots do have emotions.)

Could this be a breakthrough for mechanized-psuedo-humans and their flesh and blood progenitors? That remains to be seen. The plays are, however, a fascinating exploration of robot-human interaction, presented in an artistic, rather than purely scientific, manner.


As Japan Society representative Yoko Shioya noted,

It’s not about robots trying to replace the human actors. Rather, robots play as a robot role…So it’s about the encounters of robots in the near future where they serve in every human’s living space and how they interact with human beings.

The robots certainly had all the trappings of their real-life counterparts; the robot in ‘Sayonara’ even sported an apron; and their voices were recordings provided by company actors.

Missed the boat? Have a glimpse of the action in the trailer below.

Japan Society

Seinendan Theater Company



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