Home News University announces new stage adaption of hit sci-fi book ASTRA

University announces new stage adaption of hit sci-fi book ASTRA

A new multimedia theatre production of ASTRA – based on the critically-acclaimed eco-science fiction series The Gaia Chronicles – has been announced by the University of Chichester.

Written and produced by Naomi Foyle in collaboration with director and designer Raven Kaliana, ASTRA is supported by Arts Council England, the University, and other project partners, and will be shared at Brighton Fringe and Chichester Fringe this summer.

The next performance is hosted at Graylingwell Chapel, in Chichester, at 1:50pm on Sunday 03 July. Tickets for the show, which is part of the city’s Fringe festival, are available here.

The multimedia production depicts a post-fossil fuel society struggling toward social justice and balance with the Earth. Set in a post-apocalyptic Mesopotamia, the story features a wilful young heroine, Astra Ordott. Astra, a bisexual teenager of mixed heritage, introduces us to the sustainable innovations of an eco-paradise – Is-Land, her beloved homeland – reclaimed from global disaster through great coordination and effort.

A family crisis, however, exposes sinister truths about Astra’s world, shattering her beliefs and forcing her to take a new view of the Non-Landers – destitute but determined refugees living across the border in a nuclear wasteland.

Writer Dr Naomi Foyle, a Reader in Critical Imaginative Writing, said: “When I wrote The Gaia Chronicles, feminist dystopias were all the rage. The quartet is both feminist and dystopian, but not in a way that pits women against men.

“Rather, the series focuses on the haves and have nots in a world struggling to recover from nuclear war and climate catastrophe; and in response to abuses of power proposes new models of leadership based on cooperation, empathy and intuition – qualities often considered feminine in our heavily-gendered society.

“I was over the moon to receive funding to collaborate with incredibly talented people from a wide range of backgrounds to bring the books to the stage.  I hope ASTRA will help feed hunger for progressive change, and seed much needed solidarity in our divided post-lockdown society.

ASTRA’s director, Raven Kaliana of Puppet (R)Evolution, has designed and built the innovative set and props, and will perform in the show with puppeteers Gun Suen and Sara Guedes. In a soundtrack featuring fourteen voice actors, Macadie Amoroso voices Astra, and University English and Creative Writing graduate Daniel Santos Marques voices Astra’s lawyer, Jasper.

The soundtrack features music composed by young musicians working with the Crawley-based charity Play for Progress, which supports unaccompanied asylum-seeking youths. These tracks will be interwoven with field recordings from al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and archival Palestinian music curated by ASTRA’s composer/arranger the London-based Palestinian theatre artist Mo’min Swaitat.

ASTRA’s themes include racism, disability rights, child abuse and climate crisis.

An after-show discussions will offer opportunities for audience members affected by these issues to speak out and connect with others who share their concerns, including local groups working to problem-solve. Feedback from these discussions will help develop this work-in-progress toward, hopefully, national and international touring in 2023.

Community outreach to invited guests from disadvantaged neighbourhoods is being provided by Rachel Searle, Director of BlakeFest (West Sussex) and Ümit Öztürk of Euro-Mediterranean Resources Network, who is also providing the catering for the live sharings. The live performances will be filmed for an online Industry Sharing for international theatre professionals.

The University of Chichester has supported ASTRA with a Research Facilitation grant toward script development, and the use of rehearsal space in the Theatre Dept, including an Open Dress Rehearsal in the state-of-the-art venue The ShowRoom on May 31st, to which all staff and students are invited.

Book tickets to watch ASTRA at Grayingwell Chapel in Chichester – or, alternatively, read more about The Gaia Chronicles.

See more about Writer Dr Naomi Foyle and her work.

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