Sunday, 5 December 2010

Karel Čapek's R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)

Lowry mentions Karel Čapek's R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in his filmscript for Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night in a sequence where the character Dick Divers walks past cinemas and theatres on Broadway in New York where this play is showing.

The play's US première was at the Garrick Theatre in New York City in October 1922, where it ran for 184 performances, a production in which Spencer Tracy and Pat O'Brien played robots in their Broadway debuts. It also played in Chicago and Los Angeles during 1923.

R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (Czech: Rossumovi univerzální roboti) is a science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Čapek. It premiered in 1921 and is noted for introducing the term "robot".

The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called "robots." Unlike the modern usage of the term, these creatures are closer to the modern idea of androids or even clones, as they can be mistaken for humans and can think for themselves. They seem happy to work for humans, although that changes and a hostile robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race. After finishing the manuscript, Čapek realized that he had created a modern version of the Jewish Golem legend. He later took a different approach to the same theme in War with the Newts, in which non-humans become a servant class in human society.
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Listen to extracts from R.U.R. Sci-Fi London's reading from (Rossum's Universal Robots)

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