Hanoi to host Japanese play featuring humanoid robot

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A scene from "˜Sayonara,' which features Geminoid F, a humanoid robot, and a Japanese actor

A short play featuring an Android robot and Japanese actors will be performed in Hanoi next weekend.

"Android-Human Theater: Sayonara," is organized by the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam in celebration of Japan Vietnam Friendship Year 2013.

"Sayonara" is an innovative short play performed by human actors and a Geminoid F, a humanoid robot developed in 2010 by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University. The robot has been said to look exactly like the woman it was modeled after.

It was unveiled in 2010 at the Aichi Triennale in Japan and since then, it has been exhibited in numerous countries including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, the United States, Australia, South Korea and Thailand, winning praise from both experts and the general public.

The original play, written by the internationally acclaimed playwright and director Prof. Oriza Hirata from Osaka University and Seinendan Theater Company, depicts a humanoid-robot reciting Japanese, French and German poems to her dying master. In the latest version of the play, however, Hirata adds a short episode after the master's death. After losing her master, the humanoid-robot is assigned to a new task: mourning for the deceased.

According to a press release from the organizer, "The play might be simple and short in length (30 minutes) but it is pregnant with deep meaning, asking the question: "˜What do life and death mean to humans and robots?'"

Hirata has been collaborating with Ishiguro on Android-Human Theater projects at ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories since 2007. Their past plays, in which human actors have shared the stage with robots, are considered groundbreaking, both artistically and scientifically.

The play will be held at 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m. on August 31 at the Cong Nhan (Workers) Theater, 42 Trang Tien Street. Performances will be followed by a 60-minute lecture on Android-Human Theater projects given by Hirata.

Admission is free. Advance tickets are available at the Japan Foundation Center, 27 Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi (Tel: 04-3944-7419).

Attendees must be at least 15-years-old.

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