"Secret Thoughts," a play by British novelist and playwright David Lodge, is introducing audiences to a hot new actor--Arthur the robot.
Arthur comes onstage for about 20 seconds, scans the room, and collides with furniture in the production, which is described as "science against art, and morality against indulgence." In it, Ralph, a married, groundbreaking cognitive scientist, meets Helen, a recently bereaved novelist, and "sparks fly" (presumably not from the robot short-circuiting).
It's really just a walk-on (roll-on) part for the remote-controlled bot, who's made mostly of fiberglass. But it leads to a pivotal conversation between the characters about the emotional intelligence of robots. And, of course, it marks another exciting step forward for aspiring robot thespians everywhere.
The world premiere of "Secret Thoughts" will show through June 4 at the U.K.'s Octagon Theatre Bolton located in Lancashire in Northern England.
"At the Octagon, we have the facilities to make theatrical sets, costumes, and props, but a modern, sleek robot was a bit beyond our reach," Oliver Seviour, the play's production manager, said in a release.
So the Octagon decided to turn to students at the nearby University of Bolton for casting help. The theater sponsored a bot designing and building competition, and first-year special-effects student Laura Durham took the prize for her creation, which can move backward, forward, and sideways. The upper half can rotate to scan the room, as called for in the script. … Read more