What went down in Life on Mars: The Gameshow at Einstein’s Garden, Green Man Festival 2015

Einstein's banner - Green Man

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We made it back. Thanks to the Rising Ape Space Agency  we have returned from Mars and finished our thorough debrief with the professional medical staff here at RASA Mission Control in Bristol. But the memories of our time with you Martian colonists will stay with us, at least until the same time next year.

In total eight teams signed up to compete in the first ever gameshow held on Mars, including Superstars, Team Uranus, Space Oddity, and Team Placenta. The prize? A luxury hamper containing precious bonus rations of ice-cream (freeze dried), a foil blanket for the cold Martian night, and an extra regulation RASA crew t-shirt. The be-tophatted host, James Riley, introduced his two android helpers, A-TON and E-STEL, and the serenest super computer this side of Orion, DAVIDBOT 3000, and then the games were afoot.

Host James

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Ash, our engineer, and a veteran of a simulated Mars mission who helped us devise the rounds was unable to attend the festival at the last moment. Understandably, these sorts of things can happen in space missions, and it gave us an opportunity to practice an important skill for all astronauts to have: improvisation.

Into the breach stepped Zoe of the National Space Centre, who with minimal (read: no) rehearsal delivered three motivating speeches throughout the show on the importance of Teamwork, Communication and Psychological Understanding to a successful space mission. You colonists made our guest very welcome and there were loud cheers for her inspiring words.

Aton and James

Round 1 was all about Teamwork. It saw two teams race against the clock to navigate a giant exposed wire that formed part of the hab’s airlock system. A steady hand and excellent coordination between team members was required to succeed. Amazingly, both teams completed the challenge in the time allowed, but due to touching less exposed wires, Team Uranus made it through to the final.

Charades Round

In the second round, Communication, two teams engaged in a Charades-off based around various space-related titles in pop culture. Incredibly this proved even more difficult than on a Christmas evening after too many sherries when your nan has to act out Shawshank Redemption. Perhaps the pressure of the crowd, or the weight of the potential prize was weighing on the colonist’s minds, but in the end Space Oddity qualified despite only getting two film titles correct! Special mention must be made for their rivals, Team Placenta, who managed to describe Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus for their only correct answer. using only frantic pointing. The colony administration salutes your dedication!

DAVIDBOT 3000

For the third qualification round, the teams had to guess the most popular answers to the Colony-wide survey that was distributed shortly before the weekend. The Colony Administration would like to thank all who volunteered their personal psychological data, and to let those who selected ‘Lighthouse Family – Lost in Space’ know that they are being closely monitored.

In an extremely tense round, the young whippersnappers of Superstars came from behind to steal the win from Team Uranus, after correctly deciding that most Colonists would want to call their parents for their annual phonecall (aww, you softies). Full results of the survey will be available soon for those who really want to know what the Colony’s favourite ice-cream (freeze dried) flavour is. Hint: it’s not ‘Chorizo’.

Alex on Mars

And so the final round was upon us. At this point the downpour was really trying to make sure everyone believed there was liquid H20 on Mars which will have come as welcome news to those early 21st Century rovers that we saw gathering dust out on the plains. The three qualified teams remained resolute and threw themselves into the final challenge. Tasked with carrying multiple radioactive pellets all the way around Einstein’s Garden, using only a custom made hand-held safety transporter, which only looked a bit like a big spoon covered in foil and hazard tape, before throwing them into the Colony furnace from a safe distance to save the habitat’s rapidly shutting down life-support system…. Well, let’s just say they nailed it.

In the end, Team Uranus emerged victorious, out throwing the others by some margin, and claiming the extra rations as their prize. Like true Colony comrades they immediately shared the spoils with the remaining teams, in a scene which nearly, nearly brought a virtual tear to DAVIDBOT 3000’s stoic pixels. As if in awe of what it had just witnessed, at this point the rain finally stopped.

RASA off stage

We’d like to thank Maddy for letting us on the Solar Stage for this escapade, Jen and the crew of Einstein’s Garden for solving our problems and making us feel so welcome, Ash and Zoe for their contributions to the show and, most of all, the eight teams of brave colonists who stuck it out through the deluge and competed with such admirable gusto. The future of Martian colonies looks safe in your hands.

And so, as the lights of the vast domed Green Man festival habitat went down, we tidied away the set and DAVIDBOT 3000, before celebrating the success of the first ever gameshow on Mars by dancing around to some very fine musical acts. Circulating rumours of the white suited RASA team being repeatedly mistaken for the band Super Furry Animals and engaging in 5am sing-alongs with Charlotte Church can be neither confirmed, nor denied….

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Rising Ape announced at Green Man Festival

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, other Unidentified Life Forms of every gender dimension. The Rising Ape Space Agency is gearing up for its second trip to the Red Planet, this time with our friends at the legendary Einstein’s Garden of Green Man Festival, 20-23 August!

It’s your first day on Martian Colony #1, and definitely not a field in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons. As you wipe the hyper-sleep from your eyes, you stare around the landing module and see your teammates. You remember the last thing that the Rising Ape Space Agency Mission Control said before you left: “There’s going to be some strange people waiting for you when you land. We sent them up first but they may have gone rogue. They’re probably going to try and make you do a ridiculous Mars-themed competition. Just go with it. Humour their dust-addled minds.” You blink and take your first steps on the Red Planet. ‘First to wake up! 10 points!’ a voice shouts from nearby. Your life on Mars has begun…

Life on Mars event

So come down to the Festival Habitat Module, or ‘Solar Stage’, on Saturday 21st August with the rest of your plucky team. You’ll need to prove yourselves up to the task of settling Mars on a gameshow for the whole crowd that’s so out of this world, it’s made it to the next!

Fresh off the rocket is our newest recruit and resident Mars expert, Ashley Dove-Jay, a space engineer (best job title ever!). Ash’s work is wide-ranging. In the last year he has developed radiation mitigation strategies for astronauts in deep-space with Inspiration Mars; advised senior NASA figures on strategies for protecting civilisation from the effects of a solar super-storm; written several papers for his Ph.D. regarding the development of future ‘green’ aircraft morphing wing technologies; and has conducted a solo-hiking expedition through the high-arctic archipelago of Svalbard, conducting biological research on floral pollinators. Phew, we hope he has some energy left by August.

He has also commanded a two-week long simulated Mars mission in Utah.  This experience should stand him in good stead for what lies in store after joining our new Life on Mars!

More details to follow…

Einstein’s Garden is an essential, cherished part of Green Man Festival, where you can explore the far flung reaches of your imagination with over 100 jaw-dropping performances, from live comedy, music and theatre to walks, talks and interactive installations – all set across three sustainably powered stages.

Nestled among the leafy arbors and fragrant rosebeds at the heart of the beautiful Green Man site, Einstein’s Garden is the perfect place to cultivate your curiosity and indulge your creative passions. You won’t find anything quite like it at any other UK festival!

Read more about the Einstein’s Garden lineup. Buy tickets for Green Man Festival.

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