Universal Robots

Manhattan Theatre Source (Jim Lawson, Artistic Director) will present Universal Robots, a science fiction epic freely adapted by Mac Rogers from Karel Capek's seminal 1921 play R.U.R., February 12 through March 7, 2009 at the theatre's Washington Square Park home (177 MacDougal Street).

The Great War has just ended. The fledgling Republic of Czechoslovakia, under its first elected President, boasts a thriving artistic and intellectual community. At the center of that community is Karel Capek, a celebrated playwright and a passionate advocate for all his newborn nation can achieve. But the brave new world arrives faster than Karel could have ever expected when a young woman walks into his life with a strange mannequin in a wheelchair… a mannequin that gets up and moves all by itself.

Universal Robots offers a compelling, alternate history of the Twentieth Century, imagining the invention of the robot in 1921 and chronicling the shocking consequences of that invention right up to the present day.

Part science fiction thriller, part love story, part political allegory, part redemptive tragedy and a fast-paced entertainment throughout, Universal Robots departs significantly from Capek's script, offering a meaty and riveting story of war, love, faith, art, and technology that culminates, in the words of NYTheatre's Martin Denton, in an "edge-of-your-seat finish equal to the best story-telling of stage or screen."

Praised as a "a widely appealing play" by New Theater Corps, Universal Robots' 2007 workshop production went on to earn a coveted slot in New York Theatre Experience's anthology Plays and Playwrights 2008. Manhattan Theatre Source presents the world premiere of this new drama.

Rosemary Andress directs. The cast includes Esther Barlow (Helena), Jason Howard (Radosh/Radius), David Lamberton (Masaryk), David Ian Lee (Karel), Michelle O'Connor (One/Sulla), Ridley Parson (Salda/Baruch), Nancy Sirianni (Rossum), Tarantino Smith (Vaclavek), Ben Sulzbach (Peroutka), Jennifer Gordon Thomas (Jo). The creative team includes Raul Abrego (set design), Nicky J. Smith (costume design), Kia Rogers (lighting design), and Andrew Bellware (sound design). Saundra Yaklin is the production manager.

Scheduled February 12 through March 7, 2009, Universal Robots performs at Manhattan Theatre Source (177 MacDougal Street, between Waverly Place and West 8th Street, Subway: A/C/E or B/D/F/V to West 4th) Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $18. Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.theatermania.com or (212) 352-3101. The running time is two hours and 30 minutes (including one intermission). Press dates are February 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm.

Universal Robots is made possible by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Swing Space program, which was created with lead support from the September 11th Fund. Project space is donated by Capstone Equities.

Open since 2000, Manhattan Theatre Source (the Source) is an arts service and producing organization located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Named "one of the top five Off-Off Broadway theaters" by New York magazine, the Source launched Obie Award-winning [title of show], which recently completed its Broadway run, and was home to the world premieres of Coronado by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) and Richard Vetere's Machiavelli.

Great article about Universal Robots on Tor.comSFScope.com on Universal Robots

Universal Robots on BroadwayWorld.com

Karel Capek's R.U.R.

First performed in Prague in 1921, Karel Capek's R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) went on to become a seminal work of theater and literature that had a profound impact on science, technology and popular culture. A hugely influential science fiction story – before science fiction was even considered a genre – R.U.R. was inspirational to Isaac Asimov's pivotal writing on artificial intelligence and set the template for any number of robot-revolt stories to follow, from 2001 to The Terminator.

The play tells the story of the titular island factory that makes the artificial workers called "Robots" that were originally devised by the reclusive scientist Rossum. A dark satire on the industrial revolution and humankind's blind faith in technology, R.U.R. builds to an apocalyptic climax before finding a redemptive – and startlingly human – conclusion.

The History of Czechoslovakia

A Synopsis and Analysis of R.U.R

Universal Robots Timeline


Tomáš Masaryk born in Moravia


Joseph Capek born in Bohemia


Karel Capek born in Bohemia


World War I


Russian Revolution & communist government established


First Republic of Czechoslovakia formed and Tomáš Masaryk recognized as head of the provisional government


Masaryk elected first president of Czechoslovakia


Karel Capek writes Rossum’s Universal Robots- premiered in Prague


RUR premieres in New York


RUR premieres in London


RUR premieres in Paris


Karel Capek dies of double pneumonia knowing that Germany will conquer his country


Munich Agreement - Sudentenland ceded to Germany – Second Republic of Czechoslovakia


BBC television broadcast of RUR adaptation


Slovakia forms independent state – Bohemia and Moravia become German protectorate under Hitler


World War II


Isaac Asimov first shares his 3 robot laws in his short story "Runaround," published in in Astounding Science Fiction.


Jospeh Capek dies in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp


Third Republic of Czechoslovakia formed


Communist era begins in Czechoslovakia


Prague Spring reforms in Czechoslovakia, followed by Soviet occupation


Velvet Revolution Czechoslovakia - Václav Havel becomes president


Czechoslovakia divides into Czech Republic and Republic of Slovakia


1st Workshop of Universal Robots


Premiere of Universal Robots at Manhattan Theatre Source