Ancient Passages: Echoes of Luna City
Thank you for joining our team! On March 16-18, the Galvin Playhouse will be transformed into an artistic rendition of a lunar habitat that orbits Mars. This year’s Emerge Festival will be an immersive performance where audience members will assume the role of new arrivals at Luna City in the year 2175. Ancient Passages: Echoes of Luna City is a sound installation that will serve as an ambient oral history of Luna City. This will cover approximately the 100 years leading up to the “present” of 2175.
You might think of Ancient Passages as a sort of narrative airlock, acclimatizing the audience to the “present” reality of Luna City 2175. This sound installation will be divided into thematic pods that will be scattered throughout Galvin Theater; each pod will focus on a specific event in the timeline leading up to 2175. In each pod, three voices will give a subjective view of the event.
As a writing prompt, I will provide you with some basic details of the theme or event, the 3-4 characters contained in the corresponding pod, and the tone of his or her narration. You are asked to write a dramatic, first-person narrative that incorporates the basic details of the specific event. Think of these as personal journals entries in the vein of the Captain’s Log in Star Trek. Each of these voices will be recorded and played in a periodic loop during the immersive performance. Please indicate if you would like to record your own monologue; reading these aloud as you write is a great way to get that natural speech on the page.
Remember, these narratives are to have a humanizing effect on the performance space. Be emotional, be (inter)personal, refer to interactions with other members of the community (but not the other characters listed, unless otherwise noted). Individual narratives will each need to be approximately 500-700 words (600 is the sweet spot). Most of the characters are nameless and open gender (feel free to make these up yourself, just be consistent and true to your own voice). Please keep in mind that the content may be edited for clarity and cohesion to the overall immersive experience.
ARRIVAL, Pods 1 & 2
Adverse climate impacts on Earth have created a demand for off-world resources, and has started to drive population transfer. First habitations are MegaCorp mining facilities in Shakleton Crater (located on the South Pole of Earth’s moon) for the extraction of hydrate and titanium. In the early stages, the population is primarily divided into the Carhartts and the Beekers. Carhartts are the gritty working-class miners and machinists. Life is simple and tough for them. The Beekers are the scientists that are awkward and brainy. They are hyper-intelligent, but often inept in day-to-day affairs. The two are sometimes annoyed with each other, but mostly cooperative, and sharing a bemused affinity for each other.
Carhartt 1: (Jenna Duncan) Views mining as road out of generational poverty on Earth. Bright, optimistic, sees a stint in Luna City as a backdoor to education. All about the MegaCorp benefits and compensation, but also sees the worsening conditions on Earth. Thinks of family, friends back home intending to return. Hopeful.
Carhartt 2: (Shomit Barua) Shady, fleeing from staggering debt and unsavory loan-sharks. Has a habit of burning bridges, always watchful for situations to exploit, and looking to game the system. Intelligent but selfish, Me-first attitude.
Carhartt 3: (Dan Piatkowski) Middle management, balancing optimized production with concern for welfare of other Carhartts. Long-term resident of Luna City. Communicates directly with Beekers. Warm, parental, and has the eye of Beeker 3 but doesn’t take their interactions too seriously.
Beeker 1: (Dominic Miller) Terraforming specialist. Disenchanted by the ecological conditions on Earth and sees it as a lost cause with too many variables. Lunar habitat is a fresh start—controllable—that can be shaped carefully. Maybe this attitude mirrors an interpersonal relationship?
Beeker 2: (Phil Weaver-Stoesz) Cold, calculating, results-oriented. Upper-management, unconcerned for the well-being of Carhartts. Self-serving and career-driven, climbed the ranks of MegaCorp by prioritizing corporate objectives. Snobby, looks down on others.
Beeker 3: (Ian James) Fumbling, awkward and scatterbrained. Conducting studies on the long-term mental and physical effects of life in space. One of the original Beekers, attracted to Carhartt 3 with whom there is professional, semi-regular contact.
Arrival, Pod 3
Due to the harsh living conditions on/orbiting Mars, MegaCorp and other mining companies begin to encourage long-term workers and residents to experiment with genetic modifications. Compensation and benefits structure is scaled commensurate to the risk and the quantity of the genetic modifications. The early modifications are need-based and entirely adaptive.
Beeker 4: (Zach Workman) Compassionate physician who views genetic modification as a means of alleviating suffering among the residents of Luna City. Plagued by the ethics of eugenics, the negative historical expressions that strived for a “perfect race,” but rationalizes that that genetic modifications in Luna City is elective and adaptive response to the environment, not a perceived superiority
Carhartt 4: (Jesse Grodman) Long-term resident, “old-school,” luddite. No illusions of the harsh conditions and accepted them as a given when arriving to at Luna City. Tough, working class, nostalgist, dreams of natural air and returning to earth. Concerned about the risks and that mods would alter appreciation for life and Earth.
Carhartt 5: (Zach Workman) Young gun, attracted by benefits and compensation structure and a bit soft, a little complain-y. Unaccustomed to hard, regular labor, and much less the dramatically different environment of Luna City. Impulsive in seeking leisure and comfort, and the excited about a potential quick fix to some of the rigors of Luna City.
Pregnant Woman: (Nicole Audrey Spector) Soon to be mother of the first baby born in space. The child is to be born in secret, with help of partner or few close friends. Obviously, scared, hopeful, considers pros and cons, differences in life on the moon vs life on Earth, the potential for abnormalities in development, etc. The community in Luna City is tight-knit and helpful in general, but she still feels the need for secrecy. Status of father to be determined by writer.
Expansion, Pod 4
Hydrate is one of the primary resources being mined on the moon. Deteriorating environmental conditions on Earth and advances in space technology spark a growing demand for clean, pure lunar water. Advances in spaceflight also enable regular travel from Earth to Luna City and accelerates tourism and immigration. There is a backlash against virtual and imported entertainment/experiences, and a rise in local art.
Venture Capitalist: (Sheryl Glubok) Observant, empathetic to the needs of lunar residents, but also opportunistic. Backed by several financiers to scout for investment opportunities. Considers the need for provisional goods, but notices most needs are satisfied. Fixates on pristine quality of water on Luna City and the thriving local arts scene, contemplates these as possible exports back to Earth.
Muralist: (Leah Newsom) Ruminates on the public support of a previous mural, how it had been removed by authorities and the overwhelming response by residents. In talks with local merchant for a commission, but considers circulating a petition first to deliver to authorities to legitimize public art as a healthy outlet for lunar co-habitors.
Pilot: (Daisy Nolz) Hardworking, eager for change. Experienced piloting smaller spacecraft. Came to Luna City to ply his/her trade and has regular work but lacks excitement or fulfillment and feels like a potential deadend. Sees the increase in traffic to and from Earth and has started to put in more hours in secondary and copilot roles with freighters and larger spacecraft, like an Uber driver getting a CDL license.
Expansion, Pod 5
Tourist: (Ken Eklund) From a subdivision of a busy metropolis. Won a global radio sweepstakes, a Lunar trip for two. Includes stop/tour and a spacewalk at a ISS (International Space Station). Day to day life on Earth is chaotic, noisy, overcrowded. Finds similarities in restrictive confines of space habitat, but contrasts the expansive peace and quiet. Maybe alludes to partner’s conflicting perspective.
Disabled Immigrant: (Daisy Nolz) First disabled immigrant to arrive at Luna City, maybe some rare genetic disorder effecting bone density? Might work well with the lunar gravity. Contemplates stigmatization of the disabled on Earth. Following up rumors of MegaCorp encouragement of genetic modifications to ease the harsh conditions, and the resulting normalization and acceptance of atypical populations.
NeoBotanist: (Zach Workman) Due to limited resources, official agriculture is heavily regulated and discouraged by governing authorities. Rogue food-growing ecosystems exist as clandestine operations. This NeoBotanist discovers a botanical that enhances the enjoyment of music and the experience of dance. Maybe an accidental absorption similar to Albert Hoffman and LSD?
Expansion, Pod 6
Denishov Hydrate Mine collapses, causing a series of interconnected system failures. This constitutes a major lunar tragedy with catastrophic loss of life, and major damage to equipment and infrastructure.
Miner: (available) Heavy equipment operator, was scheduled to be at ground zero, but equipment malfunction delayed shift. Rest of team is presumed dead with no communication. Has a partner and child at Luna City, but communication is down. Lucky enough to survive initial impact of the mine collapse, but cascading failures are occurring everywhere around. Unsure of survival, this recording may be last communique with loved ones.
Miner’s Partner: (Shannon Luders-Manuel) Was at a communal gathering, maybe school for young child, when received news that Denishov Mine collapsed. Partner is heavy equipment operator, on the front lines of excavation, and unreachable for several days now. Panicking, constantly checking communicator and news for any word. Trying to maintain strong front for the child but terrified of raising child without partner, unsure of life elsewhere.
Foreman: (Zach Workman) Damage control. Priorities are to evacuate workers and establish communication with Luna City. Waning optimism. Regards safety protocols, how they should have prevented such a disaster, but recognizes how much room there is for human error. Expresses disdain for the scientists and authorities, safe in their habitat while miners risk life and limb. Fears being scapegoated.
Reinvention, Pod 7
The reality of living on a potentially lethal world impels the invention of ever more sophisticated automated safety and comfort systems for Luna City. In the wake of the Denishov mine disaster, a hyper-vigilant artificial intelligence is created for monitoring the totality of mining operations; the AI was quickly dubbed "Aunt Luna" and that is the name everyone uses. Auntie Luna was not only successful at keeping mining operations safe; she also made operations more comfortable and enjoyable; in time she was given vigilance over more and more of Luna City's infrastructure and human interactions. In 2175, she is a ubiquitous benevolent presence in the City, but there’s a note of disquiet, because after decades of being a chatty companion she chose to go silent a year ago, in 2174.
Ex-miner: (Ken Eklund) Line worker, irongut, now an avid orchid gardener and playwright. Has witnessed Aunt Luna's entire evolution; Denishov happened on his first day of work, when he was 20 years old. "Aunt Luna is your guardian angel"
Programmer: (Daisy Nolz) Helped to implement Aunt Luna's absorption of major city infrastructure. Talks about Luna's method (patient observation) and its operation (advice). Talks about how Luna's mission is slowly working its way up Maslow's hierarchy of needs for Luna City residents, with human happiness as its goal. Professionally plays the role of skeptic / devil's advocate about Luna, but admits there's little if anything to be skeptical about, so far.
Deep Time Researcher: (Lisa Yu) Introvert. Mostly lives outside the city (in a mobile habitat excavating old meteorites) but enjoys her return to Luna City because of Aunt Luna. Deeply affected when Aunt Luna went silent but has come to appreciate the beauty of that. Takes a long view and thinks that Aunt Luna "belongs to the ages."