Transmission in Motion


23 - 25 May 2019
Janskerkhof 2-3, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, Het Huis Utrecht

“Performing Robots Conference: Dialogues Between Theatre and Robotics”

Organized by Transmission in Motion (Utrecht University)  & SPRING Performing Arts Festival                                          


Robots are increasingly present both in our daily life and on stage. Theatre makers explore the possibilities of these new technological performers and investigate the possibilities and implications of a future of living with them. Also in daily life, the presence and behavior of robots raises questions that concern their dramaturgy and design: how do social robots address their human co-performers and afford interaction with them? What scripts do they follow? How to design and choreograph their appearance and movements?

Guy Hoffman observes that theater acting and other performing arts could serve Human Robot Interaction (HRI) as useful testbeds. Heather Knight identifies eight lessons about designing non-verbal interaction that can be learned from the theatre, and demonstrates the potential of comedy for experimenting with and testing out robot behavior and HRI. Elizabeth Jochum points to puppet theatre as source of knowledge and expertise about animating mechanical agents, and shows how theatre can be used to study interaction with care robots. Projects like Towards Corporeally Literate Social Robots (Petra Gemeinboeck) and the Pinoke Project (Deakin University) use expertise from the field of dance and interaction with dancers for new approaches to developing movement for robots.

This conference takes stock of interactions between theatre and robotics so far and looks at possibilities for future collaboration. What do the performing arts have to offer as inspiration, model, and test-case for the development of robots and for human-robot interaction? How might collaboration between the performing arts and robotics contribute to further development of social robots, as well as to critical understanding of what it will mean to be living with them?

Three days with more than 25 presentations and demonstrations. Keynote addresses by Peter Eckersall (CUNY), Maarten Lamers & Peter van der Putten (Leiden University), Petra Gemeinboeck (UNSW) & Rob Saunders (Falmouth University/University of Sydney), Kris Verdonck (A Twodogs Company) and Stefan Kaegi (Rimini Protokoll).


*For more information about the keynote lectures and the panels of each day, please click on the programme*


The documentation of the conference includes a video, photos and blog posts written by our interns and students. However, this research project is far from finished, so stay tuned for more updates and news…



Keynote Dialogue – Kris Verdonck & Peter Eckersall

More Photos


“Touchy Robots: Developments in Social Robotics and Robotic Art” – Irene Alcubilla Troughton

More Blog Posts

Conference Team

Conference Director

Maaike Bleeker






Conference Organizers

Irene Alcubilla Troughton

Liza Kardami

Rachel van Eck

Guido Jansen







Video Team

Tamalone van den Eijnden

Liza Kardami

Yotam Shiboleth






Logo Designer

Chara Sakellari

 The Performing Robots Conference was supported by: