Written by Bryan Colley and Tara Varney
Using a team of local actors, astrophysicist Carl Sagan directs a play about creating the Golden Record that was on board the Voyager spacecrafts when they launched in 1977. The Golden Record was a message from earth to whatever intelligent life in the universe that might happen find it drifting through space, and included music, images, and greetings from earth in multiple languages.
Voyage to Voyager is a multimedia show that parallels the creation of the record with the creation of the play, and the actors play themselves as well as the Voyager team. The humor of Sagan learning to direct a play along with the bureaucracy he faced creating the record is balanced with an awe for the universe and the quest to define what it means to be human.
Production Info
Premiere performance July 17-25, 2015 at the Kansas City Fringe Festival (60 minute version). Starring Coleman Crenshaw, Jen Benkert, Claire Davis, Andy Garrison, Michael Gollliher, Parry Luellen, and Shelley Wyche. Animation by Billy Blob. Directed by Vara Varney.
The cast requires seven actors of any gender and includes a multi-media presentation of images, sounds, and video. The running time is approximately 80 minutes, but the shortened 60 minute version is available. Suitable for all ages. Performance royalties are negotiable and dependent on the size of the performance venue and ticket prices.
Here are the supplemental materials for the play. Simply right click and choose "Save as..." It's a large file so it may take a while to download. If you have any problems or questions, email jupiterkansas@gmail.com.
Download just the script or download Voyage to Voyager Package (472 MB)
Here are the file's contents:
The script
Powerpoint slideshow of the images
Voyager: Humanity's Farthest Journey video
Sound clips of Navajo chant, Georgian chorus, Javanese gamelan, and Azerbaijan bagpipes
Sounds of Earth video
Greetings collage in multiple languages
Voyager launch video
Applause recording
Three animated clips
Anthony Rodgers at KC Metropolis, 2015
In 1977, Carl Sagan led a project to summarize what it means to be human and to send that information into space for the potential discovery by intelligent extraterrestrial life—easier said than done! Voyage to Voyager is a play about a play—“playception”—about the real life struggles encountered by Sagan and colleagues in the development of the Voyager Golden Record, which can be seen this week in an unlikely theater near you: the Gottlieb Planetarium in Union Station.
The concept of this show is simple: to portray the process by which the famous Golden Record came to be; the said process, however, is more complicated than I ever imagined it to have been. Comical, educational, and provocative, this production asks many questions as to what the human experience truly entails and how diverse we all are from one another. The cast was lively and realistic while delivering the inflections and reactions of actors dealing with an energetic yet aloof on-stage director. Portraying Sagan, Coleman Crenshaw was the standout performer, phenomenal as the astronomical icon, and even slightly eerie in his spot-on resemblance.
Presenting a show in a planetarium comes with its own special set of opportunities and challenges, including the fact that the performers’ voices project differently depending on where they are while speaking and where the individual listener is seated. While it was fascinating to note this acoustic phenomenon, it never hindered the performers or flow but remains an interesting tidbit for anyone planning endeavors in a theater meant for a different type of star. The screen was used for projected images from the Golden Record as well as some original animation sequences by Billy Blob. These large cartoons depicted goofy situations in which hydrogen-based life-forms discover the Voyager spacecraft and attempt to decode the images and sounds on the record—silly but possibly realistic in the future, give or take a few billion years or so.
Filled with laughs and scientific details, Voyage to Voyager gives a fresh perspective on the historic task set forth by Sagan and reminds us of the hope that fuels our individual dreams to take us where no one has gone before.
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