Sayonara: Android-Human Theatre.

Sayonara: Android-Human Theatre.
Presented by Arts Centre Melbourne. Produced by Osaka University, ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory, Agora Planning LTD, Seinendan Theatre Company Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax. 6.30pm August 24, 2pm and 5pm August 25, 2012.

This hour long performance and discussion is something I will never forget. Sayonara is a fascinating cultural exchange and perplexing investigation of the potential of robot androids. And for this Melbourne can be very thankful to the Kenneth Myer Theatre Endowment Fund.

It has to be said that Sayonara is not great theatre. It is not actually designed to ‘move the audience’ as pointed out by Writer Director Oriza Hirata in the program.  The first scene is of a young woman, who is terminally ill, interacting with an Android (Geminoid) that/who is comforting her with the recitation of poetry. The atmosphere is of intimacy and the environment could be a therapist’s consulting room.  Unfortunately the actor (Bryerly Long) is difficult to see and hard to hear due to the way she is positioned in relation to the robot.  (I don’t think I have ever experienced such a silent auditorium.)

There is a second scene where a young man (Tadashi Kaizu) discusses with the robot the intention to send her into a contaminated area. I assume to work with living people who have become untouchable.  Then he picks up the Android and there can be no doubt that she/it is an object and not a person.

What follows is a discussion mediated by Marita Cheng with the Writer Director Oriza Hirata and Technical Advisor Hiroshi Ishiguro.

All in all, this - event is little confusing, a lot disconcerting and not very respectful of actors, but, not to be missed if you can get there today!

Suzanne Sandow

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