The play: In 1969, William Safire wrote a speech for Richard Nixon entitled “In the Event of Moon Disaster”. It was to be read to the nation if the members of the Apollo 16 mission were not able to return to Earth. Jonathan Mitchell, of American Public Media, wrote “Moon Graffiti” as a dramatization of that very possible alternate history.
Having been born after the moon landing, I’ve always seen the event in terms of history – something that inevitably happened. This play opened my mind to the danger and uncertainty that the astronauts were facing when they signed up for NASA. Confronted with the worst possible outcome of a space mission, not blowing up on the launchpad but being stranded in space, I have a greater appreciation for the bravery of the astronauts and cosmonauts who have explored our corner of the universe.
Rating: 8 / 10
The readers: Having directed for public radio’s Studio 360 and other programs, Mitchell has great talent at creating a setting out of sound. Here, he recreates the moon landing not as the broadcast audio that we all know, but from inside the landing module. The result is thrilling. In a few places, the audio is garbled, but this is on purpose — not being able to understand everything that’s happening is part of the program. Public radio continues to astound me with its great programs like this one. If you haven’t donated to your local station yet, you should.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain)