Thomas Melle is sitting on the stage, next to him – a glass of water. The writer delivers a talk on emotional instability in humans. His appearance, facial expressions, gestures, voice – everything looks like Melle. But this is not him. There is a hole in this creature’s head from which wires pop out, 32 servomotors control its movements, each gesture is accompanied by a quiet mechanical hum. Suddenly it turns its right leg 360°.
In this co-production between the famous contemporary theater company Rimini Protokoll and one of the leading theaters in Germany – Münchner Kammerspiele, the human actor is replaced by a humanoid robot. Fully embracing the physical characteristics and voice of the writer Thomas Melle, it gives a one-man show that introduces viewers to the “uncanny valley.” This concept was elaborated by a Japanese professor of robotics in the early 1970s. It indicates the strange effect that android robots cause due to their resemblance to humans. They look almost like humans, but this dissolves a special and uncertain zone of experience.
The “Uncanny Valley” throws up questions: what does it mean for the original when the copy takes over? Does the original get to know himself better through his electronic double? Do the copy and his original compete or do they help each other?
The performance outlines new directions in contemporary theater and is a hit on international stages.
In English with simultaneous translation into Bulgarian.
The guest-performance is supported by Goethe-Institut Bulgarien.
Produced by Münchner Kammerspiele and co-produced by Temporada Alta, Berliner Festspiele / Immersion, Feodor Elutine / Moscow / Russia, SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht / The Netherlands, Triennale Teatro dell’Arte, Milano, donaufestival Krems