The Royal Albert Hall will blast off into space for the first of its new science festivals, accompanied by a galaxy of stars including Chris Hadfield, Robin Ince and the Moomins. The Festival of Science: Space, which takes place throughout May and June 2018 in collaboration with the UK Space Agency, will include a stellar mix of talks, screenings, comedy shows, concerts and family events.
Headlining the series is Space Shambles – Chris Hadfield and Robin Ince’s all-star science show – alongside ‘Films in Concert’ screenings of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek and Star Trek Beyond, the chance to delve into the celestial with Imperial College professors, and a comedy book club featuring acclaimed stand-up Josie Long.
Lucy Noble, Artistic Director at the Royal Albert Hall, said: “The Hall was established in 1871 to promote the arts and sciences, and science remains such a key part of what we do. To launch our new science festivals, space seemed the perfect theme: the incredible exploits of Chris Hadfield and Tim Peake have captured the imagination of the whole world, and underline the incredible hold that the subject has on us. “This season will look at space in both reality and fiction, with fascinating insights from scientists rubbing shoulders with fantastic phantasmagorias from the imaginations of Steven Spielberg, J. J. Abrams and Tove Janssen, and some of the most eye-opening, mind-bending and sublimely beautiful music ever inspired by space.”
The Hall debut of Space Shambles will see Hadfield and Ince serving up an irresistible combination of science, music and comedy, alongside a host of big names. Previous special guests have included Hugh Grant, Stewart Lee, The Cure, Alison Moyet, Dara O’Briain and Richard Dawkins.
Twenty events across four spaces have already been confirmed for the festival. The ‘Films in Concert’ shows in the 5,200-capacity auditorium will see three classic sci-fi films screened in full on a mammoth screen, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, with the orchestra also starring in Space Spectacular, a major classical concert featuring music by Holst, Strauss and John Williams.
Highlights in the venue’s Elgar Room include a live re-score of the cult 1983 film, The Moomins and the Comet – with original co-composer (and post-punk pioneer) Graeme Miller performing the soundtrack live – and a performance from cult sexagenarian space rockers, BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Astronomer Donald Lyndon-Bell will be on hand to share stories and insights in an on-stage Q&A after a screening of Star Men, the documentary detailing his road trip with three fellow stargazers, who recapture the spirit of their youth while recounting one another’s influence on the most exciting period in astronomical history.
Meanwhile, Robin Ince and Josie Long will present a space-themed edition of their Book Shambles, together with some very special guests, while comedy trio Sleeping Trees present Sci-Fi?, an Edinburgh Fringe award-winning show mixing lightning-paced physical and verbal humour with live music. There’s also live music from Where Pathways Meet – whose explosive jazz stylings incorporate spacey effects and two drum kits – and a matinee recital celebrating the music and astronomy of William Herschel.
The Families strand of the season will include the latest instalment of the Hall’s beloved children’s concert, as a space-set My Great Orchestral Adventure lands in the auditorium, while the Elgar Room plays host to the wordless one-woman show, A Strange New Space – which blends physical theatre and puppetry – rhyming, peer-reviewed songs for every letter of the alphabet in Ensonglopedia of Science, and Albert Einstein and his rapping sidekick MC Squared starring in Relativitively Speaking.
Elsewhere, you can learn about the science behind the movies, in the Hall’s Gallery, explore Mars, Saturn and Jupiter with Imperial College, and test your scientific knowledge in a late-night quiz.
The Festival of Science: Space is being presented in partnership with the UK Space Agency, which has secured special guests and lent its expertise to the programming of the season.