Robot actor takes to stage

2010-11-11 17:05

kalahari.com

Tokyo - The brown-haired, brown-eyed woman made her Tokyo stage debut in a tearjerker about a girl suffering a fatal illness. Her voice was calm, but her performance a bit mechanical.

It wasn't just first-night nerves. She was an android. Her name was Geminoid F.

Sayonara, (Good-bye) staged by Japanese director Oriza Hirata at a Tokyo art festival on Wednesday, marked an unusual collaboration between an android - a robot designed to look and act like a human - and a human actor, American Bryerly Long.

"It won't be that a robot replaces human beings on a drama stage, it's more as if a new type of actor has emerged in the theatrical world," said Hirata, who had already put on two plays featuring ordinary, non-android robots.

Long plays a girl suffering from a fatal illness whose parents hire an android carer and then abandon her. The android, made to resemble a part-Russian, part-Japanese woman with long hair parted in the middle, recites poetry to her.

High price tag

Seated on a chair throughout the performance, the human-sized Geminoid F carried out conversations and monologues, dressed in a dark, scoop-necked shirt and dark pants.

Her eyes blinked and her chest rose and fell as if she was breathing even as she spoke, smiled and looked surprised, though her faced lacked the depth of expression of a real person.

Her voice and gestures were created by an actor in a soundproof chamber behind the stage whose head and body movements were detected by a camera and replicated by the android. Microphones were used for her voice.

Geminoid F was produced by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a renowned robot designer at Osaka University in Japan, whose usual androids come with a steep $1.2m price tag.

For the play, he modified one to give it only the bare essentials needed to perform the given acting, which cut costs to one-tenth of the usual. All the android's movements were carried out with only 12 motors.

"Androids can look very similar to human actors, but more than that, we can technically create a superior actor by featuring all the good techniques of human actors such as staring, moving and talking," said Ishiguro.

Despite the raves, Geminoid F's human counterpart said she felt as if she was performing solo.

Ticket sales

"There's a bit of distance. The robot has a quite particular position because it's got a voice, but it's not some kind of human presence," Long said.

Some in the audience also had doubts.

"It looked like an android playing an android," said 28-year-old Chihiro Aikawa.

Hirata said androids are not only good actors but also great for boosting ticket sales. About 600 people were expected to watch the play over a two-day Tokyo run.

"All of their acting problems can ultimately be solved if I only invest enough time, and the audience always loves to see them acting," he said.
Read more on:    technology  |  robotics
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Khayelitsha 19:27 PM
Road name: Spine Road Southbound

DELAYS from N2 Highway going into Khayelitsha

Cape Town 19:21 PM
Road name: N2 Outbound

ACCIDENT near the Airport runway

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.