Arizona! Here we are. I’ve been living in San Diego County pretty much since diapers so this is kind of a culture shock. I mean you never see signs like this at a restaurant in California!
But really, to be fair, I only saw that sign in one store. A restaurant called the Fire House. Maybe people get confused by the name.
And then at times, Arizona it’s eerily similar to home. For example, next to the Gammage Theatre there are quail living in the bushes! Reminds me of when I worked at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town just three short weeks ago!
Also the Gammage is currently hosting the touring production of Peter and The Star Catcher, which had its world premier at the La Jolla Playhouse. Our first night here I was having a drink in the hotel lobby bar while Katie had a skype-date with her Boy Friend. I got the chance to hang with a few crew-members from Star Catcher. I learned a lot about the differences and challenges when taking a show on the road. Did you know that a touring Broadway show must transport and hang all of their own lighting instruments? Did you know that they only take 6 hours to strike the set once the show has closed? Did you know that only crew leadership typically travels with the show? Each department gets 10 locals as their crew and it may not be the exact same crew when time comes to take the set down again.
In general, life here is beyond great. We are set up with a nice little apartment, wifi and laundry. Plus there is a really awesome woman named Elisabeth who’s job it is to solve all our problems. Also there are orange trees everywhere. All over campus. Right outside our dorm and even in alleyways.
And the most sweet thing of all is that everyday, all day, Katie and I dedicate ourselves to working on our art and sharing our process with the people at this university. We had our first class today and it went great. We have a group of 5 very different and enthusiastic future theatre leaders.
At the same time we are moving into some clarity and momentum with our piece about Space Exploration and it is very exciting. Yesterday we met with a super cool guy named Patrick Young. He is a professor and researcher here that specializes in the evolution of stars. I guess you could say he is a real life Star Catcher! He and his team of grad students are looking at stars and researching areas such as estimated age, chemical composition, and a bunch more stuff that is way beyond my area of expertise, to determine if there might be a “habitable zone” in that solar system where a planet could exist that might be able to possess liquid water and support life.
Apparently there is a star named Tauceti (Tow-set- tee) that is close to our solar system and a similar size to the sun. Tauceti has a planet in it’s solar system that just moved into the habitable zone. So maybe on that planet there exists little baby microbial beginnings of life. Cool! This research helps scientists to know which planets they should be focusing their energy on in their quest to find life on other planets.
But the quest is slow going and, like finding parking on the ASU campus, is a bit like swimming up stream. Community support and funding for space research in America has been declining since the 1970s. We haven’t even put humans on a celestial serfice other than our moon. And even then, no human has walked on the moon since 1972.
There have been a handful of un-manned lulnar-landings by other countries like the Soviet Union or India. The last lunar landing was by China on December 14th 2013. Hey that was my birthday!
It seems, more and more these days, space exploration is moving out of the federal, public realm and into the private, corporate event touristy realm. Just ask Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla (www.spacex.com) or Richard Branson Virgin Airlines (www.virgingalactic.com ). What does this shift mean for space exploration? What does the For-Profit model do to scientific research? You could look at Sea World for a good example of that. Anyone who saw the film Blackfish knows what I’m talking about.
Yesterday’s inverview made me all tingly. I am starting to feel and understand the passion behind this work. And it makes sense. The relationship between science and art is a long-standing one. Visual artists like Chesley Bonestell and science fiction writers like Camille Flammarion have been inspiring curiosity about space since before cars were even a thing. It is our job as artists to inspire curiosity. Because the more we know about our universe, the better our quality of life will be.