As a child, Niki McCretton wanted to be an astronaut. Now, in the 21st Century, space tourism is here. Driven by her lifelong passion, Niki takes us on an epic expedition of extraordinary moments from history, fuelled by her imagination. Spanning 50 years of the space race, Space 50 revisits a time when ambition exceeded logic and men were sent to the Moon to touch down in little more than a tinfoil spacecraft. Space 50 tells some of the personal stories of those people who experienced this astronomic goal, who saw Earth from outer space, and the aftermath.
Space 50 is physical in style with a strong narrative. It features two live performers and is produced by an outstanding creative team featuring animation, film and an original score. The text has been written by Andrew Smith whose best-seller Moondust recounts how he tracks down nine of the astronauts who walked on the Moon. The original concept and research for the piece included working with leading popular-science author Piers Bizony who specialises in space. This is Nikiís second project with award-winning director Guy Dartnell and film-maker Kathy Hinde.
In preparation for Space 50, Nikiís research took her to Star City in Russia where she visited the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre just outside Moscow and saw the Soyuz simulators, the centrifuge room and the neutral buoyancy lab -- an underwater facility which simulates the conditions of a zero-g space walk. Niki explains: ďI traveled to Russia with my father who is 66 and had some fascinating memories of the space age. Iím interested in the memories and opinions that people have, going right back to 1957. So much has changed since satellites came along and I want to reflect those planetary rites of passage.Ē She also met Captain Alan Bean of the Apollo 12 mission, the fourth man to walk on the Moon (and the first man to eat spaghetti there!). He is now a visual artist. Space 50 received a personal endorsement by leading science-fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Space 50 is part of Nikiís ongoing fascination with space travel. She devised the critically-acclaimed show, Muttnik: The First Dog In Space, which tours alongside Space 50. A family show, it tells of the journey of the worldís first living creature in space -- a stray dog called Laika -- sent into orbit by the Soviets in November 1957, followed shortly thereafter by two more dogs and Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space.
Following its 10 February 2007 World Premiere at the ICIA Arts Theatre in Bath, Space 50 tours across the U.K. in the winter, spring and autumn of 2007. Niki is asking venues to encourage audiences to send in memories of significant moments from manís journey into space, such as what they felt when Sputnik 1 sent back its eerie signal, when Yuri Gagarin went into orbit or where they were when Apollo Astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon. The responses will be collated and made available at the performances.
Space 50 has been commissioned by the ICIA as part of its ongoing policy to commission new arts projects regionally and nationally. With support from: Activate (Dorset), Arts Council England, Bournemouth University, Dance South West, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Brindley Arts Centre (Halton Borough Council), Merlin Theatre (Frome), Take Art! (Somerset) and The Lighthouse (Poole). Sponsored by PBC&T and Bellingham International.
ďOur human achievements in space over the past half-century should be marked by a celebration that reflects such innovation and exhilaration. Space 50 will, Iím sure, present audiences across the globe with a lasting experience that draws them into the joy of exploration and enables them, as space travel does, to reflect on their own humanity and the beauty of our unique planet.Ē
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