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Artists and Engineers Collaborate to “Save Humanity from Robots”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Engineering students from RIT’s Design / Stagecraft Apprenticeship course in the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) are collaborating with Rochester-based The Kingfisher Theater to bring the 1920 science fiction play “RUR” to life. They are working with COLA’s Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture to create the robotic and science fiction props for the production. The results will be displayed on April 28 at Imagine RIT in the Gene Polisseni Center.

When Rochester professional theatre company, The Kingfisher Theater, decided to stage the 1920 play "R.U.R," they knew they needed to engage RIT students to bring the science fiction play to life. RIT’s students from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering are collaborating with the local theatre company to create robotic and science fiction props for the production.

"R.U.R.," short for “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” is the work of literature that originated the term “robot.” The play is about artificial intelligence, artificial life, and the potential threat to humans if robots begin to sense that they aren’t recognized as persons. RIT engineering students are working with the theatre’s production staff to help design and create the setting of the show – a distant planet colonized with the purpose of producing robots using steampunk-inspired tools and laboratories. The students are creating detailed pieces to illustrate a microcosm of the greater universe in which the play is set.

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Additional information on Imagine RIT exhibit.