Sunday, 16 November 2014

Paradise Project 1: Watching the future happen

In our 30 minute spoken word stand-up comedy astrophysics lecture 600 People (I'm explaining what it is because for some reason* it doesn't have its own webpage yet), I talk about how astrophysicist Dr. Simon Goodwin (99.5%) convinced me that there are no other extraterrestrial civilisations in our galaxy. I won't explain how he does that as we're doing more with the show next year, but one of details of his explanation (back in 2006) was:
In 100 years, human beings will have the technology to launch a spacecraft that will be able to intercept an asteroid, or meteorite, land on it, drill into it, mine it for ore, and fuel, build a replica of itself, and then take off again.
So this week, I had the sensation of that future starting to arrive, as we were able to follow the landing of Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on our laptops and phones. The first step towards the future that Simon described to me in his office 7 years ago.

This week we've been back in the making process for The Paradise Project, our new collaboration with our good friends mala voadora. We're often asked about our making process, and our regular answer is that the making process for every project is different. And again that has been proved true. This process has been expansive and exploratory, and has been marked by the fact that each week (or couple of days) of working on it, has been a slightly different collection of members of both companies - in Warwick, Lisbon, Beirut, and Sheffield. This week has been Rachael and I from Third Angel, and Jorge Andrade and David Cabencina (the team will double next week).

This smaller group of us has allowed us to focus in on the structure and world of the show. The very nature of the theme mean we have many strands of exploration open at the moment, and we're at the point where we're picking out which strands we want to weave together. Seeking a simple structure that can exist within the field of research we've been doing.

One of the themes of the show is, well, we're wary of saying time-travel, but more about cause and effect of actions through time, and the passing of knowledge forwards through time, and what would happen if some of that knowledge slipped back through time.

The wariness of saying "time-travel" ties in with one of this weeks conversations about whether all fiction set in the future automatically becomes Sci-Fi* or at the very least speculative fiction, by virtue of it containing technology that we don't have yet.

As ever, we're simultaneously making several possible versions of the show (I'd say 3 different structures) in play. They're not entirely disconnected from each other, they overlap, but they have different focusses, and different audience relationships. There are texts that could be in any version of the show, some that contain an idea that would add to any version, and a couple that only exist in - or for - one particular version.

Each morning, it seems, one of us comes in feeling we have cracked it, with a proposal to put to the team. Project solved. Then slowly, under the scrutiny of our colleagues, we come to realise that there are now new problems with this structure, new questions demanding answers. Or things that seemed so clear at home, or in the cafe, that now seem a bit wooly...

Some of these thematic/formal discussions are now getting reframed as potential material for the show.

A strange bit of time-travel is that we're back working at The Workstation in Sheffield, for the first time in a long time. The Workstation hosted our first ever show, Testcard, and we made and showed several other pieces there (The Killing Show and Shallow Water to name two), so it's been really nice to be back. At some point on Monday we realised that the room we were working in - Conference Room 5 - used to be the home of the production offices for the northern media school, where I did my MA, and where, arguably, Third Angel was born. And when we oriented ourselves, we realised that the corner we had gravitated to work in was the corner where I had my production desk for both Testcard and With The Light On, our first two pieces of work, back in 1995/6.

*I haven't done one yet.
**I'm also vaguely aware from my teenage years hanging out at Andromeda bookshop in Brum, that there is, for the purists, a difference between Sci-Fi and SF; and another thing that Simon talked to me about was the range of soft Sci-Fi and hard Sci-Fi, but that's a discussion for another time...

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