Shipping container lands in Roker to transport people to space and back

Go to space and back in 20 minutes with a new art installation in Roker offering entertainment that’s out of this world.
Space Camp in RokerSpace Camp in Roker
Space Camp in Roker

The Space Camp shipping container has landed in Roker for a fortnight, offering daily screenings of a short film set in the future, in which a pandemic has ripped through the country with a crew tasked with setting up a new Sunderland on an alien planet.

Called Hylton, We Have a Problem, the film sees the crew speak to their ground control in a space centre deep beneath Hylton Castle.

Produced by Tiny Dragon working with film company Candle and Bell, the film was inspired by a clause in former Black Cat player Stefan Schwarz’s contract which stated he couldn’t travel to space whilst playing for the club.

The Space Camp shipping container is in place in Marine Walk in RokerThe Space Camp shipping container is in place in Marine Walk in Roker
The Space Camp shipping container is in place in Marine Walk in Roker

A shipping container has been specially converted for the screenings where audience members take their seats on former plane chairs for the immersive audio visual experience, which forms part of a series of Unlocking The Doors performances commissioned by Sunderland Culture to mark the city emerging from lockdown.

Speaking about the Stefan Schwarz clause, creative director Mark Calvert, from Tiny Dragon, said: “At the time Stefan’s agent had two tickets for a space flight due to take place in 2001, but SAFC had written into his contract that he couldn’t go while at the club.

"As part of Unlocking The Doors we were looking at the best ways for people to escape, and what better way to escape than to go into space.”

He added: “The people of Sunderland have been so supportive of the project. When we first had the container in place at the weekend it was all wrapped in sheeting it looked like The Death Star and plenty of people were asking what we’re doing. It’s a great spot next to the pods and people have been really interested in it, we’ve been letting people have a sit inside, even if they’re not watching a performance.

Audiences of up to six can watch the screeningsAudiences of up to six can watch the screenings
Audiences of up to six can watch the screenings

"We worked with a great film company and sound engineer that really makes it feel like the container is moving and taking you to space and back, it’s a very immersive experience.”

The next Unlocking the Doors performance will be Club Six Twenty, a collaboration between theatre company The Six Twenty and artist Ronan Devlin. This will be a one-night only event at Independent nightclub on Holmeside on Thursday, August 26.

The following evening, Friday, August 27, will see the first of several Bank Holiday weekend performances from Southpaw Dance Company and light artist Rupert Stamp at The Athenaeum in Fawcett Street.

The three performing arts commissions have been awarded through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants and are aimed at helping the city’s cultural landscape take a step closer to normality after Lockdown.

Screenings take place daily until August 15Screenings take place daily until August 15
Screenings take place daily until August 15

*Space Camp can have audiences of six at a time and people are asked to wear masks inside the container. It will run until Sunday, August 15 with up to eight screenings a day. Tickets are £5, available from the Sunderland Culture website The show is aimed at children aged six and over.

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