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writer...performer...sometime pop-up cinema host.

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Storytelling the Space Race

BBC Radio 6 Music is a wonderful radio station to listen to; through it, I have been introduced to a lot of new and inspiring music, including Laura Marling, Beck and, most notably for me, Public Service Broadcasting.

A couple of years ago I heard a song called GO! Performed by Public Service Broadcasting, it tells the story of the Apollo mission to the moon where Neil Armstrong was the first man to step onto the surface. It was unique in its composition in that it told the story from the point of view of Mission Control, and gave an exciting, fast-paced dynamic to the story.

The track was from their album The Race for Space, which gave us a brief history to music of the challenges faced both by the USA and the USSR during that time. It remains one of my favourite albums.

What came to light for me was what a wonderful piece of recent history that was; the very idea that two countries competed in a race to get to the moon, and each time one would out-do the other with a technological advancement, seems very testosterone-fuelled and a little bit of nonsense. But, this was more than getting to the moon, this was figuring out who was better, Communists or Capitalists.

This got me wondering if such a story could be told to our younger generation and was the first piece of inspiration that I got for performing my own take on The Space Race to schools.

I set about writing a timeline of the race, from Sputnik onwards, when satellites chased each other, then men in capsules. It was amazing to see how each country would leap to the next advancement, and ultimately, how close the USSR had got to achieving victory. I wrote the story eager to get this tale out into the wide world.

Of course, if you are designing yourself to be a story teller, then you have to read the story out loud. It was while doing this, in the company of me alone, that I discovered not only that this was an interesting and exciting period of history, it was actually a race, and could be presented as such.

Imagine the story of the space race as if you are being told it by a racing commentator. That is what I have imagined and that is now what I have packaged together to get it out there come the new term.

What I like about this is where the inspiration has come from. I knew all about the space race but never thought it could be a roller-coaster ride of a story. It was only after hearing the music composed by Public Service Broadcasting that I rediscovered how exciting and challenging the race really was. It was a time of real heroes heading out into the unknown, experimenting inside equipment as volatile as the space around it. They put their lives at risk for our advancement, and that, I feel, is something that we as a human race tend to gloss over.

So, come the new school year, I will be sending out flyers and emails to schools across Kent. The Space Race being one of a few stories that I have concocted in the hope that someone will take a punt and give this wannabe storyteller some time.

After all, much as those astronauts and cosmonauts did, you have to put yourself out there to get results.

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