Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Joseph Wright Cosmic Roadshow

Educator Phobos (aka David Erskine)
In my previous post I told of an event at Derby Museum that I co-created many years ago to reach very young audiences and bring to life the most famous work by 18th century artist, Joseph Wright of Derby. - The Orrery

Digging out and watching the ancient amateur VHS video tape of The Joseph Wright Cosmic Roadshow was a real trip down memory lane for me. And so, as the 20th anniversary of our little production is coming up next week, I thought the time was ripe to digitise the old video tape and get it onto Vimeo.

Each thirty minute performance began with one of the three audio-visual slide shows I created, projected straight onto the wall of the stage area and with the volume cranked right up as far as I dared. (Do try and ignore the shaky camera work during these sequences, if you can, and just try and imagine the fun we had putting them all together!)

Joseph Wright Cosmic Roadshow from Nick M. on Vimeo.

If you want to skip the audio-visuals and just watch my alien friends in action, here are the rough timings:
Educator Phobos and Ursa Major (aka Bryan Shaw)

Introductory a/v       00:00 to 06:00

Cosmic Teleguides  18:10 to 23:00

Final a/v sequence   29:40 to 32:20

The production was devised and created entirely in our spare time, and neither alien you see on-stage is a professional actor. The elderly Educator Phobos was played by my good friend David Erskine, then our Assistant Education Officer at Derby Museum. Ursa Major was played by his friend, Bryan Shaw, then an engineer at Toyota. You might even spot yours truly, right at the end of the video, up there on the gold platform, in my element, controlling all the sound and lighting effects. Of course, this wasn't the normal work for an Assistant Keeper of Natural History - but then I've never been one for sticking narrowly to my subject specialism, and that's when museum work is at its best - when you work with colleagues to be innovative, enthusiastic and really reach out to people in unexpected ways.
Dim the lights . . .
Queue the music . . .

Watching the video certainly made me smile - I hope it does you.
Leave me a comment if you think it ought to be performed again in some form (or is it better to stay consigned to the dusty shelves of a sad old museum curator and his memories?).

Postscript: Not only did The Cosmic Roadshow win Derby Museums a "Highly Commended" Gulbenkian Award for Imaginative Education Work in 1991, it also resulted in both museum staff appearing on the front page of The Sunday Sport - a rather raunchy national newspaper! This weird and wacky rag used a promotional image from our show and ran with a story of  two aliens buying up works of art to take back to their planet. Now, that's just out of this world! To view the actual newspaper, click this link

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a really exciting event u guys did. Wd have loved 2 have been there.
    Gr8 costumes 2!