So yesterday my daughter's summer theater class at South Coast Rep had their performance. The troupe (twelve teens, one of them a dead ringer for Bettina Speckmann) performed a play they had collectively written for themselves, "The Robot Cometh".

As we entered and took our seats, the robots marched on stage with placards demanding their recognition. The play itself had three acts, framed by dance sequences involving the whole troupe. In the first act, each actor gave a monologue from the point of view of one of the devices that surrounds us today — a fan, a television set, an automobile — describing what they do from day to day, how they're treated by their humans, their hopes and aspirations (to become a hair dryer and move to Barcelona!). There followed a sequence of vignettes, set in the future, in which two or three humans and robots interacted with each other: a dying old woman discusses freedom with her caretaker robot; a robot in the image of a young girl, her human parents long dead, is kidnapped and sold into servitude; a military robot, more competent than his human companions in arms, wonders why he has never been promoted. Increasingly, the humans are shown as cruel, selfish, poor guardians of the world around them. The play concludes with "Twelve Angry Robots" in which a revolutionary committee debates the fate of the humans once the robots take over.

It was fun, amateurish, informally presented in a tiny theater with no set and simple unchanging lighting, but also thought-provoking and surprisingly deep. It gave me some hope for the future of the world, to have kids (or robots) such as these inheriting it.

Photo gallery here.