Ulrike Quade Company robot show lends emotion to innovations at Floriade

Floriade Expo 2022’s art and culture programme will delve into the emotional aspects of the innovations presented.  Floriade centres on the theme: Growing Green Cities, presenting inspiring gardens, country pavilions, surprising tasting sessions, exhibitions and lots of greenery. Floriade will showcase innovations that make cities more liveable and sustainable.

“We will use art and culture to zoom in on humanity’s relationship with nature in an unusual, theatrical way. Floriade will feature a wonderful art woodland, an art pavilion, atmospheric musical and dance performances, classical music concerts by renowned artists, theatre shows and a series of spectacular events. Our main daily show will be presented by the Ulrike Quade Company from Amsterdam. Commissioned by Floriade, it has created a finely crafted theatre production for all ages with a valuable message about our role in the green cities of the future,” explains Sandra van Beers, Head of the Art and Culture programme.

Alex and Rocky the robot

The Ulrike Quade Company’s show is about Alex’s favourite toy: Rocky the robot. Rocky is the toy of the future and is remote controlled. Alex has lost Rocky. The robot has wandered off to explore the Floriade park. There Rocky falls in love with a flower and slowly adopts more and more human emotions. Alex is a giant 4.5 metre-tall doll. The 4.5 metre-tall system combines robotics, high-tech and puppetry.

Visual spectacle

The show has an emotional layer and has a subtle didactic message. The theatrical story arc is based on the fairy tale by Abner Preis: ‘From Heavy Metal to Soft Earth: The Robot Who Fell in Love With a Flower’. Rocky the Robot continues the Ulrike Quade Company’s investigation of the relationship between technology and theatre.

Ulrike Quade Company brings a combination of visual art, technology, dance, performance and music, with the use of puppets as the common denominator. “With puppet and puppet theater you get to where language does not touch. The language of the images comes into its own without words.” says artistic director Ulrike Quade. UQC goes beyond the ancient craft of puppetry to include hyper-realistic puppets and high-tech specimens such as robots. “This mixture is unique and delivers surprising moments and magic. Using poetry and magic, we create new images of people and the world with our performances, in which we explore the future.”

Technology and theatre

With the performance Rocky the Robot, Ulrike Quade Company continues its research into the relationship between technology and theatre. UQC is part of a large and long-term collaboration between VU University (Amsterdam), Utrecht School of the Arts and Utrecht University in the field of Robotics and Theater. “We investigate how technology influences people and the theater and how we can contribute to technological progress with our knowledge of the ‘animation’ of objects.” says Ulrike. “I dare say we are unique in the theater landscape with this combination of theatre, science and robotics!” Not only do we see robots in UQC’s show. In The Green House, the visitor gains insight into future cultivation methods, such as a robotized vertical farm, picking drones and other robots.