Acclaimed Japanese director Oriza Hirata is releasing a stage production of Kafka's surrealist classic The Metamorphosis. But in this production, our tortured protagonist does not wake to find himself transformed into a bug. Instead, he's an android. And remarkably, an actual robot gets to star in the show.

In Kafka's original story, traveling salesman Gregor Samsa has inexplicably morphed into a gigantic, disgusting bug. This causes his family to hide him away in shame and disgust. But in Hirata's production, it's an android — exoskeleton and all — that takes center stage, both literally and figuratively.

To make it work, Hirata collaborated with leading roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro. He created a tall, gangly robot with a metal skeleton and white, human-like face and hands. An automated voice interacts with the live actors on stage, testing the timing of the four French actors chosen to play his family.

AFP/Getty.

"Even though people react when they see a robot, you can tell people are not moved by it," noted Hirata in an AFP article. "I wanted to create a situation in which a robot could move an audience."

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The production, titled "La Metamorphose version Androide", is set to open for a short run in Yokohama on Thursday and then travel to Europe to kick off the "Autumn Festival Normandy" next month in France.

[Via AFP]