Eyes on the Stars

21 February

'RSC playwright Rona Munro in conversation with NASA astronaut Piers Sellers and Professor of Space Science John Zarnecki'

Eyes on the Stars – Space as inspiration

At The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG, Wednesday 30 March at 7pm

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Little Eagles, written by Rona Munro, tells the extraordinary story of Sergei Korolyov, chief designer and unsung hero of the Soviet Space Programme. Under the leadership of this remarkable man, the USSR trounced the Americans in the space race throughout the fifties and for much of the sixties, achieving a series of firsts including the first human in space and Earth orbit.

To coincide with the world premiere of the play which opens at Hampstead Theatre on 16 April and to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, one of Korolyov's beloved 'little eagles', the RSC and Royal Society are co-presenting a special event to be held at The Royal Society in London on 30 March 2011.

Playwright Rona Munro, Professor of Space Science John Zarnecki and NASA astronaut Piers Sellers will discuss the legacy of the space race and compare the challenges faced by Korolyov with those who work in space exploration today. They will reflect on this inspirational period of space travel and its impact on science, the arts, and our own human aspirations.

Rona Munro has written extensively for stage, film, radio and television including Iron at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Doctor Who (1989) and the film Ladybird Ladybird directed by Ken Loach (1994).

John Zarnecki is Professor of Space Science at Open University and Director of the Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space & Astronomical Research (CEPSAR) with over 30 years' experience of space research spanning a number of space missions.

Piers Sellers became a NASA Astronaut in 2006. He has taken part in three space flights and has spent 35 days in space, including six spacewalks.

Little Eagles is at Hampstead Theatre from 16 April to 7 May 2011, playing as part of a Season of World Premieres. During this season, the RSC presents three bold and new plays. Little Eagles will be followed by Silence, a devised piece in collaboration with one of the UK's leading experimental theatre companies Filter, and finally American Trade, written specifically for the Ensemble by RSC/Warwick International Playwright in Residence Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Further information

For more information on the RSC Hampstead season please contact Katie Marsh in the RSC Press Office on 0207 845 0513 or katie.marsh@rsc.org.uk

For more information on the Royal Society event please contact Nicola Kane in the Royal Society Press Office on 0207451 2508 or nicola.kane@royalsociety.org

Notes to Editors

Admission to the event at the Royal Society is free of charge. Doors will open at 6.20pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis

  • This event will be broadcast live on the web at royalsociety.org/live and available to view on demand within 48 hours of delivery from royalsociety.tv
  • To watch a video of Rona Munro on Little Eagles and her motivations for the play
  • The Royal Society is the UK's national academy of science. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as a provider of independent scientific advice, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. Their expertise is embodied in the Fellowship, which is made up of the finest scientists from the UK and beyond. Their goals are to:
    - Invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation
    - Influence policymaking with the best scientific advice
    - Invigorate science and mathematics education
    - Increase access to the best science internationally
    - Inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery
    For further information please visit www.royalsociety.org
  • A Season of World Premieres – booking information
    Hampstead Theatre Box Office: 020 7722 9301 or www.hampsteadtheatre.com
    In person: Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, London NW3 3EU
    The RSC's 16-25 Year old £5 ticket offer is available during this season.
    Visit www.rsc.org.uk/london for details.

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