Friday, October 4, 2013

"Three Sisters" in Japanese, the eldest, middle, and robot android - AIF Northwest

20:26 04/10/2013

Elena Menshenina

came to Moscow Japanese theater troupe Seinendan – director, stage workers and actors humans and robots. Textbook Chekhov’s play “The Three Sisters” defeated the Japanese in their own way, one of the sisters in the play – a real android. The other – the robot simpler, just helps the characters on the farm.

Moscow performance Seinendan closes his world tour – with this performance the Japanese had time to go in several countries, including France, Spain, Taiwan.

What distinguishes “Android version” of “ordinary»

Photo: Press and Information Office of the theater “School of Dramatic Art» / Alexander Savvicheva

theater director and innovator of medaka Hirata famous in Japan and the world for his experiments with robots in the performances. First use of mechanical actors he tried five years ago and since then has carried out several different projects: “I’m working,” “Deep in the Forest”, “Goodbye.” “Three Sisters” is – the latest production. And the robots it uses the most advanced. In the “Android version” of their uses two: little white Robovie R3, like the character from the movie “Valley”, and Geminoid F, the most similar to its prototype – a real person. They were developed at the University of Osaka and the Special ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory, which specializes in the latest developments in robotics.

Hirata its new cast satisfied: “With them work even easier than with people – they never forget the text and do not complain.” However, room for improvisation “human” actors is not – because androids all the action and dialogue in the formulation painted by the minute and seconds.

the story, the youngest of the sisters – our Irina, and in the Japanese version Ikumi, due to mysterious reasons is android. Older sisters continue to live their usual lives and communicate with the younger, both alive. She answers them, moving across the stage on his mobile chair, and generally behaves like a real person.

Photo: Press and Information Office of the theater “School of Dramatic Art» / Alexander Savvicheva

Since robots in Japan are firmly in the ordinary life of people, all the audience sees on the stage – it has actually come a future, says the director. Here, as with mobile phones: you can use them or not, but they are still there.

What can robots

«Robots can do everything, they just need to program”, – said at a press conference last disciple, and now – a colleague Hiroshi Ishiguro, the creator of mechanical actors.

example, Robovie R3 – the successor to go on sale as early as 2010, a robot that can help its owner in the house. Here and in the performance model goes to the store, buy products and consults with the sisters about the menu. In this case, it is equipped with multiple sensors – to navigate in space, to move, to communicate with the man. It has high maneuverability. And saying goodbye to all the robot respectfully bows.

Geminoid F is arranged differently. On the body, “Ikumi” There are 12 pneumatic actuators that make it “breathe”, blink, move his lips, turning his head. Because the most important thing in the play was to show the android communication with other people, the first thing the developers have learned “little sister” facial expressions. Then all parties robot “played” a real actress – her movements were videotaped, transcribed and programmed geminoida repeat them. Therefore behaves on stage Ikumi as a living person – even the movement of her lips look natural.

«Turn off the phone!»

Before the performance of all the spectators will be asked to completely disable mobile phones, tablets, laptops and any other gadgets that can access the network wi-fi – they may damage the main “actress” android. As recognized by the engineer such case they have already happened – the robot just “hang out” on the stage. Now the problem has been settled, but security is still taking. “It’s like a plane: the plane because the phone is, perhaps, not fall, but better yet, do not take risks” – joked the organizers.

reaction of the audience


in Japan people are more interested in the technical capabilities of robots, then the rest of curiosity is probably the fact of participation in the performance of an android, said the director. However, the robotic actors created carefully so as not to frighten the audience.

– In our institution, we examine how people react to robots, build graphs, – explained the engineer from Osaka. – It was found that the stronger the android looks like a man, the more sympathy he evokes. However, at some point, if the robot is too “straight people,” the situation has broken, and people relate to it very negatively. So for us it was very important to make such an android that would not cause fear or dislike of the audience.

with its task, scientists seem to be right – in the words of the director, the audience enjoy the play, but from afar Ikumi not be distinguished from a real girl. Even sitting in one place, “she” blinks periodically tilts her head slightly tilted backwards can. But when a news conference at some point fell with a thud metal structure with Playbill, all present at the same time jumped. All but the android – he just calmly sat next to a collapsed installation. It was a little creepy.

Further plans

Photo: Press and Information Office of the theater “School of Dramatic Art» / Alexander Savvicheva

next year Seinendan wants to conduct a new experiment in France, they will make the statement on the novel by Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”. Only if the writer protagonist turned into an insect, here he is to be an android. Used to working with the robots have the French – the cast of the local rack up.

meantime, all thoughts are focused on Medaka Hirata Moscow premiere.

– I know that for the Russian Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” – it’s almost a sacred text, so very excited and hope that you will accept my good performance – timidly said the director. – Maybe if Chekhov lived now, he would have done everything he saw.

View robo-performance, mainly organized by the Embassy of Japan in Russia can be 4, 5 and 6 October in the theater “School of Dramatic Art” on Sretenke. That he will open the annual festival of traditional Japanese culture “Japanese Autumn 2013».

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