The first robot story staged in a real Melbourne medical research lab

This August , Melbourne biomedical research centre BioFab3D and immersive theatre company PlayReactive present a new play by local writer Rohan Byrne — RUR 2020.

Staged in a real laboratory as part of National Science Week , this modern reimagining of Karel Čapek’s century-old masterpiece delves into the ethics of biofabrication – the manufacture of living tissues in the lab – and asks what price society is willing to pay in pursuit of a miracle cure.

The BioFab3D lab at St Vincent's
The BioFab3D lab at St Vincent’s

“This play represents an extraordinary convergence of classic science fiction and cutting edge research. …For us researchers it’s a prompt to bat the big questions around; f or audiences, it is an immersive, unique, and unforgettable window into the hospital of the future,” says BioFab3D centre manager Cathal O’Connell.

“What excites me about this piece is that it goes way beyond science communication, and grapples with real ethical questions that have deeply human consequences – consequences we may well have to think about within our lifetimes,” says PlayReactive director Georgia Symons.

RUR 2020 will have its world-first season August 9 – 19 at BioFab3D, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.  A public forum featuring the scientists who inspired the work will be held after the show on August 9 & 16 . Interviews with the writer, director, lead actors, and laboratory manager are available.

RUR 2020 is an original stage play by Rohan Byrne, adapted from Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (1920). PlayReactive is a Melbourne-based playmaking collective focused on bold interactive experiences. BioFab3D is Australia’s first robotics and biomedical engineering centre embedded within a hospital; last year it revealed the new Biopen device, which uses living human cells as ‘ink’ to repair damaged tissues.

Media Kit:

Please direct all enquiries to producer Alexandre Guerin, 0406 310 861,

Georgia Symons is a theatre maker, game designer and installation artist based in Melbourne. She is interested in using playful, interactive forms to “play through” complexities. She also works extensively in youth arts, most frequently with St Martins Youth Arts and Western Edge Youth Arts. Georgia is an associate of the Agency of Coney in London, the co-founder of the “Small and Loud” scratch night at Arts Centre Melbourne, and the creative director of PlayReactive Theatre . She currently works as a senior producer for the City of Melbourne’s Smart City Office, and as the lead writer for the video game Wayward Strand , to be released in 2019.

Cathal O’Connell is a researcher in 3D bioprinting with a background in physics/nanoscience. Currently he is Centre Manager of BioFab3D , St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, where he works with surgeons, engineers and biologists to develop ways to print tissues using living cells. He moonlights as a science writer, and has contributed more than 100 articles to COSMOS Magazine. Other work has appeared in the Conversation, the Griffith Review, and Best Australian Science Writing 2017. He has also co-authored an e-book for the general public about biofabrication: 3D Bioprinting: Printing Parts for Bodies (2014).

Rohan Byrne is a PhD student in planetary geophysics at the University of Melbourne who also works as a freelance science writer and independent playwright. He writes a playful blog about the science behind fictional settings, Build Me a Planet , covers the science beat for student mag Farrago , and is a regular guest contributor for the European Geophysical Union’s Geolog blog.

PlayReactive is a play-making collective based in Melbourne, Australia. Previous works have included Gameshow, uCare for Melbourne Knowledge Week, a fanciful zine named Fairy Tale , and the video game Bosswords . PlayReactive focuses on bold interactive experiences across multimedia, from games to theatre and installation art. They can be reached via their website,

BioFab3D is Australia’s first hospital-based biofabrication lab dedicated to the artificial generation of living human tissues for implantation and medical research. It hosts collaborative efforts between researchers, clinicians, engineers, and industry partners to deliver therapeutic outcomes from cutting-edge science and technology. Read more about BioFab3D on their website,


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