Ahead of their performance of Martha in Orbit on Tuesday (the first night of Sprint 2017), Houston talk to us about sci-fi, space and the difficulties of translating science research into material for a show.
Putting this show together has been like opening a whole shipping container full of worms. It’s set in the future (one of the few things we’re sure of), which is a funny place to start from. There are so many possibilities, both wonderful and horrible, that it’s easy to get swallowed into a vortex of guesses and second-guesses about what could happen. You just have to accept the fact that you will, without question, be wrong. In the end our decisions have been based on what feels possible but still amazing. This is science fiction after all
But I think it’s been the science that’s been the biggest joy to research; it’s often so much more amazing than any fiction we could ever dream up. The concept of the heat death of the universe, the fact that one day everything will just cease to exist, is mind boggling. The fact that there are more atoms in the universe than there are years until the universe ends. That the conditions for life in the entire universe are only possible for a billion billion billionth billion billion billionth billion billion billionth of a per cent of its lifespan. All the good stuff is already there! It’s getting your head around it enough to share it with an audience is the hard part.
At this point the show seems to be moving towards feeling like a collage. We’ve spoken a lot about post-capitalist futures and the intersection between climate change and technological progress. We’ve spoken about science and religion, about how they can feel simultaneously at odds yet perfectly in harmony with each other. We’ve spoken about humans and planet earth, how much of our identity as a species is anchored to our planet and if we could ever really leave for good.
It’s a massive headfuck, to put it bluntly. But it’s incredibly rewarding to spend so much time thinking about such huge concepts and to try and translate them into something human and identifiable. We’ve used parables a lot, one of the oldest and most timeless forms of storytelling: looking to the past to think about the future. These parables, and I’d say much of the atmosphere of the show has come from this episode of Time Is Away on NTS Radio, a sort of musical essay.
I’ll leave that for you here to enjoy, and we hope you can make it to our work in progress. We’d love to know what you think!