LJMU astronomer collaborates on award winning play
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07 July 2011
A new play, developed through a collaboration between Unlimited Theatre, LJMU astronomer Andy Newsam and ESA Astronaut trainer Gail Iles, has recently scooped two prestigious national awards.
The play - 'Mission to Mars', is aimed at children and tells the story of the first humans to travel to Mars. Set in the year 2035 AD, it aims to inspire the audience about science, space and their own future. It may even inspire the very astronauts that may be around in 2035. During its national tour, the play was described by audience members as the "best space adventure ever" with the Bannister family, who saw the play in Leicester, saying "my kids, who go to the theatre regularly, said it was the best thing they had ever seen. My 8 year old son said it was even better than 'Oliver' in the West End!"
In addition to the play, a special Astronautical Challenge for primary school children was created to run alongside the performance. This recruited the children to UNSA - the Unlimited Space Agency - for whom, over several weeks, they performed scientific challenges and shared reports with Mission Control. It was this aspect that earned the first award - the UK Charity Award for Arts and Humanities, which was presented at a grand reception in London.
Secondly, the play won the Sir Arthur Clarke award for Space Education. Announced at a special award dinner at the UK Space Conference, the award was presented by astronaut Tim Peake. The award itself (known simply as an 'Arthur') is monolith-shaped and is given in recognition of achievement in space education and outreach.
Andy Newsam, Director of LJMU's National Schools' Observatory, said:
"Mission to Mars has been a wonderful project that has brought some of the excitement of science and space to a totally new audience. We are all delighted that it has been recognised with two such different awards and planning is now underway for the next stage, so watch this space".
Further information is available at:
Unlimited Theatre: http://www.unlimited.org.uk
National Schools' Observatory: http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk
UK Charity Awards: http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/charityawards/
Sir Arthur Clarke Awards:
Pictured: A moment from 'Mission to Mars'. Credit: Unlimited Theatre