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As if working as a starving actor isn’t hard enough, performers now have a startling new competition: robots. In the Japanese play Sayonara, previewed above, the porcelain doll-like Geminoid F android (developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro) stars alongside a live actress in the 20-minute stage performance. The director of the show, Oriza Hirata, is especially appreciative of robot performance because, “ultimately, their acting problems can be solved,” as Geminoid’s voice and movements are controlled from a computer backstage.
Is it just us or does that sound mildly despotic? There’s something almost tyrannical about a director who is excited at the prospect of controlling his actors in this way. Sure, with a few tweaks in the operating system you can alter Geminoid’s expressions and movements at will (not to mention, you can work her day and night with no breaks for no pay and you won’t have the actors union knocking at your door—but that’s a whole other story), but aren’t those quintessentially human quirks, flaws and capacity for spontaneity part of the charm of seeing live performance? Not to mention, we hear the human actress had a hard time connecting with her android costar, stating that she felt like she was performing alone.
Regardless of the pros and cons, no one can deny the alluring novelty of this bizarre spectacle. Lately we’ve been seeing all sorts of weirdo AI stuff coming out of Japan, as well as holographic pop stars. Here’s another example of a robot starring in the company of humans as seen at Tokyo’s Digital Content Expo. This bot might move in perfect time with the other dancers, but she’s got nothing on the real women’s hips.