Riverland launches 2017-18 theater season

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

In 1921, Czech writer Karel Capek introduced the word “robot” to the world in the science fiction play “Rossum’s Universal Robots.”

According to a press release, as humans have become completely reliant on artificial intelligence, technology and automation, this play rings more truthful than science fiction. In a factory that makes artificial people from synthetic organic matter, robots may be mistaken for humans and can think for themselves. You need to be powerful to control the robots, and the robots give you power — unless they turn on you. R.U.R. is rated PG.\ R.U.R. will be performed at 7 p.m. Oct.  4 through Oct. 7 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at Frank W. Bridges Theatre on the Austin campus.

The play is written by Karel Capek and adapted by Riverland theatre faculty member Susan V. Hansen, based on the translation by Paul Selver and Nigel Playfair, as well as the original Czech script. Hansen also directs the production.

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“Our dependence on artificial intelligence has been accelerating, and the momentum behind that is to make human lives easier,” Hansen said. “Karel Capek wrote R.U.R. in 1920, before the computer age. He coined the word ‘robot.’ His robots were more human looking than machine. We have circled around now to creating amazing machines that we can make look human, or mammal, and they are being used now in production and military situations.”

“Every character has a strong objective,” Hansen said. “The conflicts in the play refer to, ‘How far is too far?’ ‘Who is responsible?’ ‘What is the definition of human?’ ‘Why are we making them?’ “What happens when technology can adapt and becomes smarter and stronger than humans?’ ‘Where does God come into this?’ I incorporated Smart Home technology, video chats, GPS and everyday technology that we take for granted now. I combined four characters into two and made one a female, because, yes, women can be scientists too. I updated some outmoded societal norms from 1920. We are on the verge of a new world. Are we ready?”

Individual tickets to R.U.R. are $13 and  are on sale at www.riverland.edu/tickets.

Tickets may also be purchased at the Riverland Box Office, in room E107 in the east building of the Austin campus. Box office hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before performances.

Riverland students receive two free tickets to each performance with a valid student ID. Contact the box office at 507-433-0595 or  email boxoffice@riverland.edu.

The press release stated, Riverland Theatre strives to provide quality productions that are entertaining and challenging to both the audience and the artists.  Because we reach such a diverse audience, the theatre department encourage you to become familiar with the material before attending the performance.

According to a press release, Riverland’s Theatre Department is a high-energy performance-oriented program. Plays produced vary from classical tragedy to modern comedy and from full-scale large-cast musicals in intimate small cast plays.

Students are encouraged to get involved in all areas of theatre production, including, but not limited to, acting, stage managing, set building and painting. Strong academic offerings provide challenges in and out of the classroom.