Science meets Theatre: Rocking through Time – Voyager’s new show

Our new Geology show is ready to take to schools! We’ve had so much fun putting it together and, while COVID-19 prevents us from visiting schools just now, as soon as we’re given the green light we’ll be there with bells on.

Theatre communicates on many levels. It can tell a story through narrative, explore ideas and themes, aim to move the audience to laughter or tears or get them thinking. Sometimes theatre can impact an audience so powerfully that they are moved to go out into the world and make a difference. In Rocking Through Time, we playfully explore the story of rocks, tapping into the idea that the clues to the past are beneath our feet.

We had so much fun making these model rocks! Can you spot the real one?

Before this crazy pandemic kept us at home, Dr. Kieran Meaney and I teamed up to put our creative heads together – what is the best way to communicate geology to students in Years K-6? Kieran is the geologist and his passion for his subject is formidable. My task was to shape our ideas into a coherent 35 minute performance, one which would involve student participation. I love what we’ve come up with and I’m excited to have students play with our river, our hand-hewed foam rocks, the glacier, volcano and lava flow. I’m hoping that the students’ sense of being swept back in time, through our makeshift time-machine and sound-effects, will be real.

The audience is an integral part of Rocking through Time. Each school performance will be a unique experience for Kieran and I as presenters/performers – a new bunch of student volunteers will bring fresh energy and excitement to each show.  As they become a part of the action, they will create a physical as well as visual memory of the stories of conglomerate, sandstone, andesite, tillite and basalt. They will be transported back in time to experience an exploding volcano giving birth to andesite and the moment when a paracyclotosaurus began to fossilize.

George the cat had fun checking out the volcanic lava flow – but did he burn his paws?

During this time of lockdown and isolation we’ve all had more time on our hands. Some of us enjoy this slowing down and others can’t wait for everything to return to normal. My response is a mixture of both. I’m lucky to have a garden to play in and I love the gentle pace of each day, the space to be creative and calm. But I also miss my face-to-face contact with friends and colleagues. Zoom doesn’t quite cut the mustard – I want chats over coffee and cake at a café! This time has, however, provided many of us with the chance to be creative without thinking too much about outcomes.

While I’m very excited about the product Kieran and I have created –the show we will perform – it has been the process of developing the show which has given me a buzz. Too often we get so bogged down in deadlines and outcomes that we forget to enjoy the process of doing, making, creating.  Spending time researching what lava flow looks like and then making a 6 metre flowy model was so much fun! Making model rocks out of sponges, cutting them up and painting them various rocky colours was both a hoot as well as a calming exercise. In the process of making I had time to think about what I was representing. With Kieran’s expertise and guidance, I have learned so much about rocks and how they are formed over millions of years….representing this theatrically has been a rewarding challenge.

“It looks great, Kieran but perhaps we’ll asks a student to play the part of the paracyclotosaurus.”

Next time you trip over a rock, take some time to inspect the culprit – what colour is it? What textures can you see? Is the rock made of fine or large particles or a mixture of both? What shape are the particles which make up the rock? There are so many stories beneath our feet. Can’t wait to share with you some of these stories through our show.


– By Anita, Science Communicator and Theatre Enthusiast