PULLMAN, Wash. — R.U.R. 2000, an updated version of Karel Capek’s 1920 futuristic play, continues next week at Washington State University.
Presented by the Washington State University School of Music and Theatre Arts, performances are set in Daggy Hall’s Wadleigh Theatre at 8 p.m. Nov. 4-6.
Capek, best known for “R.U.R,” was one of Czechoslovakia’s most prolific playwrights during the 1920s and 1930s. R.U.R. stands for a company that makes robots. The plot, which deals with robots taking over the world, provides ironic parallels for modern audiences concerned with the end of the millennium and the Y2K bug, says director Terry Converse, WSU theater arts faculty member. The play is credited with coining the term “robot.”
Converse says the production is named “R.U.R. 2000” because of the emphasis placed, by many people and the media, on the radical changes expected by the coming of the new millennium. This coupled with doomsday prophecies and rapid changes in technology give the play’s title its pertinence.
“Our production seriously explores why groups attach special significance to the year 2000, and why certain groups take their apocalyptic religious beliefs to the extreme of committing mass suicide,” Converse says.
“R.U.R. 2000” depicts an end-time religious group presenting a production of Capek’s “R.U.R.” as part of their service. Thus, the actual text of “R.U.R.” becomes a play within a play. During the “service,” the pastor and congregation interact with the play performance. They quote relevant biblical passages, draw parallels to current events and dramatize for each other that the world is about to end. Over-dependence on machines and technology is the cause for the pending crisis. The “congregation” functions as both actors and audience for the performance of “R.U.R.”
The “R.U.R. 2000” production is part of the upcoming Liberal Arts in the New Millennium Conference. An after-show panel Nov. 5 will discuss end-time millennium issues. The panel will explore the extremist approach attached by certain groups to the significance of the year 2000.
The cast includes Karma Blair as Helena, Patrick Braillard as Domain, Ryan Childers as Pastor Ryan, Manny DeCoria as Pastor Manny, David Klein as Deacon Dave, Melissa Mason as Sister Melissa and Patrick Moss as Dr. Gall. Set design is by George Caldwell, lighting design by Jon Carlson and costume design by Teresa Wolf. Laurilyn Harris serves as dramaturgist. Guitar music is played by Jon Clancy and the production’s stage manager is David Sampson.
Tickets are $8 general and $4 students. Information and reservations are available at 509/335-7236.

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