Which famous actor had his first role in a play written by the bloke who invented the word robot?
So here’s a question, which famous actor, in his first role, starred in a play written by the bloke who came up with the word robot?
The bloke was Karel Čapek, a Czech playwright who used it in the title of his hit play, RUR, which was short for Rossum's Universal Robots.
Apparently Čapek first favoured the word labori, which is Latin for labour, but his brother suggested roboti, which in English means robot.
Čapek’s play featured a company called Rossum's Universal Robots which cleverly built, via advanced biotechnology, workers which were like humans, but had no soul and therefore no feelings. I think I’ve worked with quite a few throughout my career. But the point is, these robots got all the crapper jobs and so they were very popular with humans.
And the actor? I’ll give you a clue: “You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.”
Yes. Michael Caine. I was reading his autobiography and came across this section:
"My first role was not overly ambitious (I thought it better to start slowly). I played a robot who speaks in a flat mechanical voice and only says one line in the whole play. This I thought was a modest enough début and was insurance against making a complete fool of myself. The play was a very intellectual piece called R.U.R. which stood for Rossums Universal Robots and was written by a Czech writer named Karel Capek.
“Not for the last time as it turned out was I doing a play in which I did not understand what the hell was going on or what anybody was talking about, including my own single line. There were many deep discussions of the meaning of the play, which only made it more confusing for me, so whenever, which was rare, my opinion was sought, I nodded sagely and would say that I thought the meaning would become clearer as we progressed through rehearsals. It never did.”
The book is called "What's It All About?" and it’s a good read.
So there you are, the world of robots is all around us.