News Archive

Robot makes stage debut

Tuesday 24 May 2011

University of Bolton Special Effects student, Laura Durham, has seen her robot creation make its acting début at the town's Octagon Theatre.

The first year student won a competition to design and build a robot, which is called Arthur, for the theatre's production of Secret Thoughts by David Lodge.

The play has a scene where a robot is needed, so the Octagon approached the University with a concept. Oliver Seviour is the play's Production Manager, he said: 'David Lodge had written into the play a robot enters the stage, scans the room and collides with furniture. At the Octagon, we have the facilities to make theatrical sets, costumes and props but a modern, sleek robot was a bit beyond our reach. Collaborating with the Special Effects Development course at the University has made this achievable.'

Laura was thrilled to win the competition but the design was just the beginning, she then had to build it. Teething problems in Arthur's development were overcome with the help of her team, including her tutor Simon Wiggins, fellow student Jack Myers and technician Dave Lewtas.


Said Laura: 'The build was quite complex and we had our fair share of problems along the way. I was quite involved in building the shell of the model and making a few decisions during the build process, but I have to give a lot of the credit to the team as well, it was a joint effort.'


Despite early setbacks the model was completed on time and to specification. Oliver said: 'After a two-week build period a fully functioning robot was delivered. It met the design brief and very closely resembled the original concept design by Laura.' 

The Octagon production team is now looking to work with the University on other ventures. Oliver added: 'This project has been a great success for the Octagon. For the University it has given the students a real project, with real deadlines and a strict brief. We are already planning how the Octagon and the University may work to together again soon.'

Laura is also pleased with the outcome and happy with her progress at the University, something she puts down to the diversity of her course. She said: 'I believe coming to Bolton was a very good decision. The course is better than I could have ever hoped for, I love being able to experiment with building 3D models digitally and physically. I enjoy having the opportunity to explore and build with different ideas and techniques. I've learnt so much this year, and can't wait for the rest of the course.'


Pictures: Laura with Arthur during the building process and Arthur on stage at Octagon