When Karel Capek took up the theme of androids, the creation
of human-like robots, most of what he wrote was sheer fantasy or
what was soon to be called science fiction. Gene splicing and
silicon microchips were decades in the future. The few examples of
automation circa 1920 look small and primitive, indeed, by today's

    A selection from the opening of _R.U.R._ will show the
gist of Capek's intention with this play.  Capek was no mere
spinner of space operas, but many of his works had deep philosophical
roots. He cared about truth and justice, and these values were informed
by his readings of philosophers, especially the then-modern philosopher

Henri Bergson.

    Bergson's still-controversial questions about the nature of time
as we experience it versus time as a physics process inspired Capek
to use a refractive approach in his narration of tales. Not only time
was able to be seen from different angles but the entire scene of human
action. Capek didn't accept that one character could see the truth
and thus communicate it to the reader. In some novels and stories,
Capek used the same event told by different narrators, to show what
he considered to be the truth: that which lay between all the
participants' versions of the tale. One such Capek novel was _Meteor_,
wherein six eyewitnesses and acquaintances of the victim describe
the same plane crash in hopes of piecing together the identity of the
plane's survivor.

    Whose truth do we get in such a play as _R.U.R._?

    Who were those robots and what did they have to say
    to the world of 1920?

     Click here for the excerpt from _R.U.R._:


    From where did the inspiration come, then?  Click here to see
what Capek himself said prompted his robot play:


    What did critics in the early 1920s make of such an odd play
on Broadway and in book form?

    See a few selected contemporary critics, here:


    Staging a Capek play is always a challenge, due to some of the
demands he made on actors. _R.U.R._ was an expressionist play and
that is a source of perennial mayhem for directors. How stiff
should the Robots be?  Here are some comments about the adventure
of producing Capek onstage:


    I know that this would have pleased ol' Karel.  There is
now a comprehensive web site showing people's own handmade
androids.  You will recall after reading our RUR excerpt that
the original robots were really androids.  Now people are 
tinkering them together and showing home photos.


Another RUR SITE by D. Jerz

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