UNIVERSITY PARK - When machines do everything for us, what will we do with ourselves? Penn State University will provide both an entertaining and informative answer this weekend as "Gizmo," a new play by Anthony Clarvoe, will be presented by Penn State Centre Stage and The Institute for the Arts and Humanities will present a symposium titled " ROBOT Weekend."
THE PLAY: With previews Tuesday and Thursday, "Gizmo," to be staged in The Playhouse, will open Friday, with performances on Saturday and April 18 through 21.
Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday.
Directed by Centre Stage's artistic director, Dan Carter, "Gizmo" is set in the future as alternate beings - neither human nor machine - are created to serve others. With the rapid evolution of technology, playwright Clarvoe asks, "Where will it all lead?"
As they continue to develop beyond what anyone believed possible, Gizmos seem perfectly content simply to serve the "users," their human masters.
But as Shakespeare cautioned, "If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work." Or in simpler terms, be careful what you wish for.
Commenting on the cast as it rehearses this new play, Carter said, "It is great to work with the actors and I think it's been a good experience for them because, in addition to working on their characters, they're also understanding how a new play comes together."
THE SYMPOSIUM: The Institute for the Arts and Humanities will present "ROBOT Weekend - Being Human-Gizmo" on April 13 through 15.
The symposium's theme is inspired by Karl Capek's "R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)," the play that introduced the word "robot" (worker) for the first time.
On April 14 and 15, a series of conversations will examine different phases of humanity, animals, disability and bioethics. Interestingly, the topics are listed, as "from worms to zombies and the human consciousness."
At the center of the symposium at noon on Saturday, will be the award-winning playwright Anthony Clarvoe, who will lead a lunch session on his play just prior to the 2 p.m. matinee.
"I think it is fun to discover how much humor there is in the continual misunderstandings, continual frustrations and continual miscommunications and this sort of helpless dependency," Clarvoe said.
The symposium is free and open to the public but registration is required.
Both the play and the symposium will be held in the Theatre Building near the Palmer Museum of Art. For a weekend "of being human and playing with robots," the play's the thing. Or maybe the symposium is.
For "Gizmo" reservations, call 800-ARTS-TIX. For "ROBOT Weekend" registration, 814-865-0495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.