Out of the Wings

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Flotando en el espacio (2010), Luis Miguel González Cruz

English title: Floating in Space
Date written: 2010
First publication date: 2010
First production date: October 2010
Keywords: family, family > parents and children, love > relationships, love > lust, love > desire
Genre and type: magic realism

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe …’ In 2008 NASA sent a transmission of the Beatles’ song Across the Universe into space. In the hope that someone out there might be listening, the voice of John Lennon sang to the stars. Floating in Space imagines two astronauts, alone in space, their mission to wait for extra-terrestrial life to respond. It is a mission that will cost one of them everything, as the years drag by with no reply.


On 4 February 2008 NASA transmitted Across the Universe as an interstellar message. It was sent in the direction of the star Polaris, 431 light years from Earth. The transmission was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the recording of the song, the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network and the 50th anniversary of NASA. In Floating in Space, two astronauts have spent years out in space, waiting to intercept any extraterrestrial response to the Beatles’ transmission and others like it. These astronauts, M.I.K.E. and F.R.A.N.K., spend their days in a tiny listening post, floating far above the Earth and their families down below. Despite their best efforts, the men never intercept any extraterrestrial signals.

The play takes us through more than 18 years of the men’s patient wait in outer space. M.I.K.E. has a son who he has not seen since the child was one year old. Every year, M.I.K.E. celebrates his son’s birthday over video link, watching from far away as the boy grows into a man. This child, Michael, spends his days looking up at the stars, desperate to learn from his mother what his father is really like. However, as M.I.K.E. remains in space, his wife gradually tires of waiting for his return and files for divorce.

Having been so far from Earth for so long, the men become more and more reliant on virtual communication. They strike up friendships with bored housewives, conducting virtual sexual relationships via video link. Gradually, some of these women, too, fade away and die. Eventually, M.I.K.E. makes the decision to return to Earth. He tries to manoeuvre their ship around, desperate to return home to what is left of his family. F.R.A.N.K., however, has not spent just as long as M.I.K.E. in space. He is content with his virtual sexual relationships and his daily routine. When F.R.A.N.K. realises that M.I.K.E. is directing their craft homewards, he objects. A fight ensues onboard, during which M.I.K.E. is killed. F.R.A.N.K. releases M.I.K.E.’s body into space. Left alone on the spaceship, F.R.A.N.K. anchors their craft in space once more and continues his mission to intercept messages. But M.I.K.E. is not left to float aimlessly alone. He is greeted by the archangel Uriel, who guides him, across the universe, to God.


Flotando en el espacio (Floating in Space) is inspired by a number of astronomical and mythological sources. It takes as its opening premise NASA’s transmission on 4 February 2008 of the Beatles’ song Across the Universe. This was done to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the recording of the song, the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network and the 50th anniversary of NASA. The Deep Space Network is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary missions and monitors communications. The transmission of Across the Universe was made from Madrid’s Deep Space Communication Complex.

The Beatles: Across the Universe

Across the Universe first appeared in the 1969 charity album No One’s Gonna Change Our World. The song itself was written by John Lennon, and as explained by characters in the play, it was supposedly composed by Lennon in frustration at his first wife, Cynthia. When Cynthia argued with Lennon, he recalls thinking that her words were ‘flowing out like endless streams …’. In the play, the strained relationship between the songwriter and his ex-wife is portrayed through the several appearances of Cynthia simply stating ‘Fuck off’ (said in English) to John.

Gods and Goddesses

The play features personal advertisements from men and women, signed with the names of gods and goddesses. M.I.K.E. and F.R.A.N.K. communicate with women named after goddesses, including Ceres, Tethys and Isis. Many of the names used are also those of orbiting satellites and moons.

Further information

The play is written in a number of different languages. Lines are spoken in English, Italian, Portuguese, French and German. Several scenes are performed almost entirely in English. Evidently, the effect of this on Spanish audiences will differ from its effect on English-speaking audiences, and so directors/translators would need to consider how to deal with these scenes.

A full-length recording of the play in Spanish is currently available on the Teatro del Astillero website [accessed April 2011]. In this production, many of the women speak all their lines in Portuguese, including the angel Uriel near the end of the play.

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 8 May 2011.

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