This paper describes a robotic puppeteering system
used in a theatrical production involving one robot and two
human performers on stage. We draw from acting theory and
human-robot interaction to develop a hybrid-control puppeteering
interface which combines reactive expressive gestures and
parametric behaviors with a point-of-view eye contact module.
Our design addresses two core considerations: allowing a single
operator to puppeteer the robot’s full range of behaviors, and
allowing for gradual replacement of human-controlled modules
by autonomous subsystems.
We wrote a play specifically for a performance between two
humans and one of our research robots, a robotic lamp which
embodied a lead role in the play. We staged three performances
with the robot as part of a local festival of new plays. Though
we have yet to perform a formal statistical evaluation of the
system, we interviewed the actors and director and present their
feedback about working with the system.