How To Build Your First Robot – Tiger Dublin Fringe – Interview


Monkey Backstage Presents: How To Build Your First Robot – ‘The only thing that can take you further than a Spaceship…is a Friendship’

A new play written by Ian Toner and Keith-James Walker for Tiger Dublin Fringe 2014 – 14th – 20th September at 7pm (Except Thursday) – Smock Alley Boys School.

We got the chance to interview the writers of ‘How to Build your First Robot’ – Ian Toner and Keith-James Walker. You can see the results below…

This play is said to be influenced by cartoons and comic books. It sounds like a misspent youth?

It could well be. But I’d imagine there aren’t too many among us who could say that they spent their youth entirely wisely. Our influence for the actual content is quite varied but stylistically cartoons and comic books are the dominant theme.

Which particular books/ cartoons?

I’d imagine a lot of what we’ve seen and read has indirectly influenced how this show has been created. Literature wise, there is nothing too specific related to the show. Cartoon wise, The Simpsons, specifically the earlier ones, would be incredibly influential. I think The Simpsons educated a generation. Moving towards present day, Pixar has helped shape the different ideas and aspects we’ve tried. The music of Jon Brion also resonated quite strongly within the creation of this two years ago.

Why is it set in the 60’s? What does that bring to the mix?

For us it sets our world in a period which when recalled in the mind’s eye evokes very certain or definite images. Predominantly the space race, charismatic presidents, pastel colours, milkshake makers and man’s burgeoning relationship with technology.

There is so much good sci-fi written about robots, from Philip K Dick to Asimov, which are your favourite?

Going right back, Metropolis by Fritz Lang, is hugely influential. More recently, Blade Runner, Robocop and Wall-E all leave indomitable marks. To experience a terrific exploration of the genre, I’d highly recommend Robot and Frank. Beautifully poignant.

Why do you think that there are very few plays based on science fiction themes?

It can be a difficult topic to tackle on stage, As an audience you have to suspend disbelief so I’d imagine with sci-fi on stage it takes a larger leap across the threshold.

Is it difficult to create science fiction stories on a low budget?

I think it depends on what the core of the story is. Whilst our Scientist is incredibly adept at creating all manner of highly advanced objects, that’s not what we try to concentrate on. It’s his relationship with his creation and with the world around him which is the story we try to push to the front.

This sounds very different from your last production, the bear’s tuxedo. Why the change in direction?

This was a piece of theatre Ian and I created for a five minute presentation two years ago in drama school. We’ve just allowed it to develop and now with the Fringe Festival we have the platform to show what we’ve created.

This play is described as having being very physical, can we expect robot dancing?

I can’t say there will be robot dancing. I can’t say there won’t be. But there will be. What there will also be is an entertaining, accessible story about a lovable Scientist, his Robot and their journey through our world.


You can find out more about ‘How to Build your First Robot‘ or book tickets here.

We are currently running a Ticket Competition for How to Build your First Robot, which you can find here.

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