Natural History Museum to stage play about Charles Darwin voyage in new theatre

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London is set to host a play about a young Charles Darwin in a new theatre space created especially for the production.

Situated in Kensington, the museum’s Jerwood Gallery will be transformed into a 357-seat traditional theatre space to stage The Wilder Earth, which focuses on a young Darwin who set out on a five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle aged 22. The expedition proved to be the basis of the scientist’s theories of natural selection and evolution.

Titled The Wider Earth, the play is produced by Trish Wadley and Dead Puppet Society, and will feature a cast of seven operating 30 hand-made puppets depicting the wildlife encountered by Darwin on the trip.

The Wider Earth will run at the Natural History Museum from 2nd October to 30th December.

The piece is written and directed by Dead Puppet Society’s creative director David Morton, ad was conceived in South Africa in 2013, before being developed further for an eight-month residence at St Ann’s Warehouse and a workshop at the Lincoln Center in 2015. A full production was mounted with Queensland Theatre in 2016.

Credit: Prudence Upton

Music producer Tony Buchen and Australian composer Lior have written an original score for the piece to transport audiences to the different lands Darwin encountered on his voyage, which included Galapagos, Australia, New Zealand, and the Cocos Islands.

Director of engagement at the museum Clare Matterson said: “It makes perfect sense for the  museum to host this production which is a gripping retelling of one of the most important voyages in scientific history.

“During this expedition, Charles Darwin collected the specimens that would inspire his theory of evolution and change how we understand the world - specimens we still house at the Museum and continue to make available for global scientific research.”

The Wider Earth is at the Natural History Museum from 2nd October to 30th December.

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