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Third Angel presents

600 People

“packed full of those whoaaaaaaa moments…  has the power to knock you to the floor; intelligent, honest and brilliantly inquisitive”

Exeunt

“We step out of our solar system, into the universe, seeking only peace and friendship…”

So says the message from the human race on the Voyager spacecraft. But is there, y’know, anyone out there? I really wanted to know, so I went to speak to an astrophysicist to find out.

This is what I found out: Stellar Wobble. The Mirror Test. The Drake Equation. Fermi’s Paradox. Enhanced humans and murderous dolphins.

Credits

  • Written and performed by Alexander Kelly
  • Inspired by conversations, and in collaboration, with Dr Simon Goodwin
  • Directed by Rachael Walton
  • Daniel Fletcher · Print design and show visuals
  • Nathaniel Warnes · Animation
  • Craig Davidson, Richard Flood, Michael Gooch, Daniel Oliviera, Emanuel Rinaldi · Technicians
  • Hilary Foster · General Manager
  • Liz Johnson & Ellie Whittaker · Administration & Production Trainees

Big thanks to all the staff at Northern Stage and mala voadora for their support, and to the Northern Elements team for their original belief in the project.

Originally commissioned for Northern Elements, a development programme funded by Arts Council England and managed by ARC, Stockton Arts Centre.

Photos by Ed Collier.

Somewhere between stand-up comedy and an astrophysics lecture, Third Angel brings you a simple show about huge ideas: the story of how a three-hour conversation with an astrophysicist changed the way Alex understands the way the Universe works.

600 People explores how we think about evolution and intelligence, belief and invention, communication and space travel. A show that explores the stories we tell in order to understand our place in the cosmos. A show that asks if there are extra terrestrials in our galaxy. A show that asks what it means to be human.

We said they were big ideas…

“… humbling, beautifully live and communal.”  
Total Theatre Magazine
★★★★ “a love letter to the wonder of the universe”  
The List
★★★★ “like the best TED talk, only more interesting” 
NETheatreReview
★★★★ “will blow your mind!”  
Three Weeks
★★★★ “in its own quiet way this show is full of wonder.”  
The Stage
Walking home looking up at the stars and suddenly feel very small in this big universe. Mind totally blown  •  left my brain fizzing  •  Do Third Angel ever disappoint? Because I just don’t think they do  •  Absolutely amazing performance by @thirdangeluk tonight @northernstage, never have I wanted to be an astrophysicist so badly
Twitter feedback from 600 People at Northern Stage, Newcastle, November 2015 

“600 People fundamentally explores how the world is understood, and is not afraid of tackling big questions head-on – not least, what it means to be human.  It is all done in such a way that we – the people ‘out there’ – are left with a in-depth understanding of a topic that we may never have even knew existed.” 
Cuckoo Young Writers
It is the most mind-expanding show I have had the supreme pleasure of seeing  •  Superb, well told, funny, this is how science should be…terrific  •  Lovely show, great detail (out of this world!)  •  Loved it! Thought-provoking and interesting  •  Wow!  Completely stunning, thought-provoking performance. Alex is a great storyteller.  •  An astonishing, enthralling piece of scientific thinking  •  Genuinely mind boggling!
Audience feedback from 600 People at Northern Stage, Newcastle, November 2015 

600 People is on tour in 2017. If you’d like to book the show, please get in touch with General Manager Hilary Foster.

The full-length, expanded version of 600 People premiered in November 2015 with performances at Northern Stage in Newcastle and at mala voadora.porto, Portugal.

Devised & Created by
the Company

Programme notes

Third Angel presents
600 People
Northern Stage, Newcastle, UK
malavoadora.porto, Portugal
November 2015

This story has grown in the telling.

The conversation with Dr. Simon Goodwin that started it all off actually happened during the process of making another show, 9 Billion Miles From Home. That show was also partly inspired by the Voyager space programme, and grew to be about wider issues of distance and time. In the end, only one thing Simon had said to me - about the speed of light and falling through space - made it into that show. Not long afterwards his explanation of light clocks made it, somewhat unexpectedly, into the short film Technology. But the bulk of what we talked about had just stayed in my head, sometimes coming out in conversations with friends when another space exploration story hit the news.

Then in 2013 we got a commission to make a short spoken word piece for ARC’s Northern Elements project. One of the themes for the commission was ‘a moment when something had changed’. The conversation with Simon back in 2006 suddenly came back to me – and I realised this was a story I still wanted to tell.

This first version toured as a 20 or 30 minute ‘performance lecture’ for a couple of years, for spoken word nights, festivals, art/science events and as one of the ballads in Northern Stage’s The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project at the Edinburgh Fringe. This year, though, it began to grow, new details creeping in, new areas opening up to be explored. We’re grateful to our good friends at Northern Stage and malavoadora.porto for giving us a chance to try out telling this longer version of the story.

Given the astrophysics-lecture nature of the show, it feels appropriate to share some Further Reading. As well as the conversations with Simon, other influences on the ideas in this piece include the books: 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens…Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life by Stephen Webb

…along with several episodes of the brilliant RadioLab podcast, especially the one about CRISPR.

Thanks very much for coming to see the work – we’d love to talk to you about it after the show.

Currently Touring

29 Apr 2017, 20:30
MAC, Birmingham
09 Jun 2017, 19:30
PREMA, Uley, Gloucestershire

Touring Archive

09 Mar 2017, 19:30
The ShowRoom, Chichester
10 Feb 2017, 17:00
Oxford Playhouse

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