Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Robots, Cyborgs, & A. I., Oh My!: Theater and Technology

Instructor(s): Dennis Schebetta, Theater

This course will introduce students to disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on theater’s relationship to past, present and emerging technologies and how it informs our notion of identity and consciousness, specifically examining intersections of humanoid representations and performance in physical and digital forms.The year 2021 marks the hundredth anniversary of the word “robot” as it was first used in the play R.U.R. (Rossums Universal Robots) by Czech playwright Karel Capek. In this class, students will grapple with the question of how technology is or can be used in theater practice (particularly robotics, digital and artificial representation of humans, or digital tools), specifically looking at humanity and identity and intersections of performance. Students will grapple with questions such as: How does theatre represent emerging and future technologies? What affect does the representation of machines and robots have on a performers and audience’s reception and notion of humanity? What methods and stories are theatre companies creating as a way of interacting with technology or creating stories about how technology interacts with present-day or our future society? What technologies are theaters using in performance that capitalize on digital or multimedia? What happens when technology is the “acting partner” in performance? Will humans feel empathy towards technology in the same way as humans? Ultimately, by looking at technology we ask: What does it mean to be human?

Course Offered: