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Rossum's Universal Robots

Friday, February 15, 2008  
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By Lindsay Blaze

Judd Theatre at Oklahoma Christian University will be a busy place on campus as the play "R.U.R." prepares for opening night on Feb. 15. The play, written by Karel Capek, combines comedy with philosophical drama.

Capek, a Nobel Prize nominee in 1936, was an early science-fiction/fantasy writer as well as a Christian intellectual. Written in the years 1919-1920, "R.U.R." was produced at the Prague Theater in 1921. It is a play about a factory that creates artificial people who eventually evolve and develop emotions. "R.U.R." also gets the credit for the term "robot," meaning both drudgery and worker.

The cast practices three to four times a week for about three to four hours each rehearsal. Starting Feb. 9, the rehearsals took place every day for at least three hours. Oklahoma Christian will perform "R.U.R." Feb. 15, 16, 21 and 22 at 8:00 p.m. in Judd Theatre. Tickets for "R.U.R." went on sale Feb. 11 at the Oklahoma Christian box office in the Garvey Center.

Director Barrett Huddleston has worked to uncover what has been lost in Capek's work, making the play appropriate for a younger crowd because of the comedy involved.

"The production process for 'R.U.R.' has been one of recovery, so in the recovery of Capek for Oklahoma Christian University, we focused on two aspects of his personality and his work, especially 'R.U.R.,' that have been hidden or overlooked in the past, and that includes both his Christianity and his humor," Huddleston said.

To add to the comedy and the appeal to the younger crowd, Huddleston and the production team have worked hard on the set and costumes for "R.U.R."

"I think people will be surprised. I've never seen a show quite like this before. It's really funny, but it's also very philosophical. It really blends genres, and the way Huddleston and the production team have chosen to stage the play is really creative. I think the spectacle elements will be really fun to look at as well," Miller said. "The play also has an explicitly Christian theme that I think will play really well here."

Miller, an actor in "R.U.R.," hopes the audience will be able to see the Christian themes in the play while being entertained. With the two of these themes so strong, the goal is to keep the audience laughing while still understanding what Capek saw in the modern world.

"Hopefully, our audience will be able to discern the philosophical themes of the play, themes that are very Christian. This isn't a 'message play' by any means, but it is a play that I think undertakes a serious Christian critique of the modern world," Miller said. "I hope our audience will be entertained. It's a funny, funny play, but I also hope that they will be able to see how Capek is questioning modern ideals."

"R.U.R." has been a play Huddleston has always wanted to see performed, and he has worked hard to make his team of actors and actresses successful in their parts in "R.U.R." Each has worked hard to find their role in the play, and Huddleston is happy with what he's seen so far.

"I've always wanted to see a production of 'R.U.R.' live. I didn't realize I'd have to produce it myself to see it, but I'm looking forward to it none the less," Huddleston said. "Instead of arresting a particular moment, I've tried to create conditions that will facilitate a process for my actors. Since we do have experienced performers in this production, I've been very pleased with the output so far."

Opening night, Huddleston will be seated in the house watching his play take off. With all the hard work done on this play, Huddleston feels confident the play is ready to work on its own.

"The purpose of a director on this level is that he begins by being a parent to the production, overseeing all its aspects, and then by the end, he essentially lets the production function on its own," Huddleston said.

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