Preview: The Wider Earth – The Story of Darwin

Award-winning Darwin drama The Wider Earth , an incredible production about the young Charles Darwin, will be opening at the Natural History Museum in mid October in a new purpose built theatre.

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The Wider Earth has a cast featuring War Horse actors, Ian Houghton, Andrew Bridgmont and Matt Tait. Written and directed by Dead Puppet Society’s Creative Director David Morton, The Wider Earth was initially conceived in 2013 in Cape Town during a mentorship with Handspring Puppet Company, the creative team behind War Horse. This visually spectacular production features 30 extraordinary puppets representing the tropical wildlife Darwin encountered on his voyage. The production will have its European premiere in the first performance theatre ever to be built at the Natural History Museum.

This coming-of-age story follows a rebellious young Darwin who, aged only 22, set out on an intrepid five-year voyage on HMS Beagle to distant and exotic lands.

 

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These incredible hand-made puppets are as much the stars of the show as the stellar cast who will bring them to life. From tiny Galápagos finches, to giant tortoises and a fossilised glyptodon, the puppets have been made following observations in the field and extensive analysis of anatomical drawings. Created over the past two years, the puppets have now had their final stages of fabrication and modification at the Darwin Centre in the Natural History Museum.

Nicholas Paine and David Morton of Dead Puppet Society comment, what makes this work special s its unique approach to storytelling, casting talented actors to play famous historical figures, who bring to life an array of incredible creatures through masterful puppetry. 

 

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The new 357-seat theatre, built for the first time in the Jerwood Gallery, will allow audiences to enter the Museum after dark and pass the cutting-edge Darwin Centre, a working scientific laboratory full of zoological specimens including those collected by Darwin on his voyage. Led by paleobiologist Professor Adrian Lister, author of Darwin’s Fossils, the Museum’s scientists are working closely with the creative producers.

 

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“This is a voyage of extraordinary theatrical discovery that celebrates the power of curiosity, the natural world and big ideas.” (Sydney Morning Herald).

 

By Josh Elwell

 


The Wider Earth runs at the Natural History Museum from 13 October-30 December 2018.  For further information and to book tickets, visit the NHM.ac.uk website.

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