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Entries in theatre (3)


R.U.R. (1922)

This photograph of the play R.U.R. is courtesy of the Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library of Lincoln Center and appears in the book Radical Robots.

See also:
The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)


The Air Ship: A Musical Farce Comedy (1898)

The 1960's TV show The Jetsons taught an entire generation what to expect of the future. Using comedy to create fanciful expectations of the future is not an idea exclusive to the twentieth century. The posters above advertise The Air Ship: A Musical Farce Comedy from 1898.

Below is an article which appeared in the January 18, 1899 Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) along with illustrations from a January 16, 1899 Fort Wayne Gazette article.

"The Air Ship," a new and original spectacular musical farce comedy, written by J.M. Gaites, possesses some novel and realistic scenic features, and it will probably draw a big audience at the Masonic Temple ton-night. One of the most realistic stage scenes ever presented will be the flight of a real air ship with fifteen passengers on a Klondike expedition, and a view of Dawson City in winter. While the author does not claim a plot, "The Air Ship" has a central idea or theme, with which it is infested by amusing dialogue, new songs, dances and specialties. Careful attention will be given to staging "The Air Ship," and the company of artists engaged will give a lively presentation of the farce. The principal members are Marie Stuart, the clever vaudeville artiste; Lattie Burke, Marlaud Tyson, Raymond Finley, Ben Welsh, James T. Kelly, Max Millian and Shields, and Nana Bancom. The management of the company announce that the scenic features and the performance of the piece will be both new, novel and worthy of cordial support.

There are many places online to buy posters like those shown below but I would recommend downloading the Library of Congress files here and here and bringing them to your favorite photo-printing establishment that can handle poster-sized prints.

See also:
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)


The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)

The October 16, 1922 edition of The Bee (Danville, Virginia) ran a syndicated story about the Karel Capek play R.U.R. The play introduced the world to the word "robot" from the Czech "robota," which literally means "forced work." Below are excerpts as well as the article as it appeared in The Bee.

If any industrial genius, like Henry Ford, ever turns his energies to the manufacture of Robots we're all goners, as the saying is.

The Robot is a terrible creature of synthetic flesh, bone and skin. He is in the image of man and has all the attributes of man except spirituality and laziness. One Robot having been completed and assembled he can be turned to the task of manufacturing arms and legs of other Robots. After they are assembled he can be sold in wholesale lots to various industrial concerns and to nations as soldiers against the Robot armies of other nations.

Or maybe you would like a Robotess as stenographer. She wouldn't chew gum because she has no taste. She wouldn't waste time with lip-stick and primping because she has no sense of beauty. She'd never ask for a raise because she has no use for money.

The Robot symbolizes the present-day spirit of mechanicalism used to forecast the revolt of humans against the human-created artifices that mock the powers of nature.

Or perhaps the play presents the theory of a coming genesis, the anticipation of a future cycle of human evolution in which man shall be confounded by the Creator he has mimicked.

See also:
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Mammy vs Robot (Charleston Gazette, 1937)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)