Senior Alec Lugo delves into technological progress and the impact it has on human society in his retelling and interpretation of Karel Čapek’s 1921 play RUR, also known as Rossum’s Universal Robots, for his senior capstone project.
RUR takes place in a futuristic society in which robots exist to serve humans.
The play focuses on two main characters. One is Harry Domin, the general director of Rossum’s Universal Robots which is the main manufacturer and distributer of robots and robotic products in the world. The second main character is Helena Glory, who meets with Domin early on in the play in an attempt to fight for equal rights for robots, however, is eventually convinced that robots are nothing more than machines and gives up.
After a lapse of time, in which Domin and Glory marry, the world is in peril as robots begin to rise up against humans in a mass rebellion.
The human characters and all humans in existence, are then in great danger as they face the threat of total annihilation at the hands of the robots.
“In our production, we are setting the play in the future with a more modern tone than that from the original. Characters will have smart devices and tablets and will communicate with one another via phones and small communication devices in their ears,” said Lugo. “The biggest change we are making is that we are including in our production a touch of transhumanism, which is the combination of technology with biology.”
The play, which is normally done in four acts, has been altered to only have a single intermission. Lugo has also made some other slight changes to the play and added to it his own interpretations.
“I wanted my final project to be something of a very big undertaking. Something heavily involved with student actors, student designers and the heads of the department,” said Lugo.
Lugo said that this is not the first play he is directing but it is by far the biggest.
The play will showcase the talents of 24 student actors and actresses and will include in it a large scale fight scene and “intense” tableau moments.
The play will tackle some large issues, including the idea of progress as a human race.
“We blindly follow progress,” said Lugo. “Characters in the show physically combine themselves with technology, posing the question: how human are these characters versus how robot are they? I firmly believe that we, as a human species, are amazing and should not be diluting ourselves just in the pursuit of progress.”
Lugo, who has been working on this play and production for almost a year, said he felt that the play is often underdone and hopes to finally give it the justice it deserves.
“I think that everyone here at Pacific should come and see this play because we are all involved in this rapidly evolving technological platform,” said Lugo. “We are evolving with technology and we are all becoming transhumans. In a worst case scenario that puts humans in danger, just like it does in the play.”
Even though this play was written in the 1920’s Lugo has made a point to prove that this play is still relevant, even today.
“We have to question where this technological progress will take us as a society and whether or not we want to continue to grow as a people who connect face to face,” said Lugo. “We cannot simply allow ourselves to be overtaken by progress.”
RUR will be playing at the Tom Miles Theater March 10-13. Tickets are required for the event and can be purchased either at the Taylor-Meade box office or at the door.