The Wider Earth, the critically-acclaimed drama about a young Charles Darwin’s expedition on HMS Beagle, has extended its run at the Jerwood Gallery at London’s Natural History Museum and will now play until 24 February 2019.
Featuring a cast of seven, and 30 hand-crafted puppets representing the exotic wildlife Darwin encountered, The Wider Earth has been described as an ingenious coming-of-age story which celebrates the incredible complexity of our planet and Darwin’s adventurous spirit as he faced perilous environments and unknown dangers on his bold voyage.
The Natural History Museum’s director of engagement Clare Matterson said:
“We are committed to bringing science to life through exciting collaborations like this with artists, even when this requires the building of a 357-seat traditional performance theatre in one of our galleries! The Wider Earth offers a radically different kind of museum experience.
Audiences are transported to the far side of the world with the young Charles Darwin on his first voyage aboard the HMS Beagle – just metres away from both the working scientific laboratories of our Darwin Centre and some of the original specimens he collected on that same voyage in 1831.
“The Wider Earth has had a fantastic reception and helped attract new audiences to the Museum so we are delighted to be able to extend its performance run and allow more people to see this captivating drama.”
Written and directed by Dead Puppet Society’s creative director David Morton, the idea for The Wider Earth was conceived at a residency in Cape Town in 2013 with the Handspring Puppet Company – the creative team behind War Horse.
Handspring Puppet Company’s Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler added: “Handspring Puppet Company is very proud of Dead Puppet Society for pioneering their production The Wider Earth at the Natural History Museum in London, a concept which was conceived during their time with us in South Africa several years ago. Since then it’s been fantastic to see their work and their influence rapidly spreading to three continents: Australia, America and Europe. Dead Puppet Society are inspiring leaders in the next generation of puppeteers!”
Following sold-out seasons in Brisbane and Sydney, The Wider Earth has found the perfect home at the Natural History Museum. The Museum is custodian to many of the specimens Charles Darwin collected on his expeditions and its 350 scientists continue in his footsteps of exploration and discovery, seeking solutions to the major issues facing the natural world. This is the first time a performance-based theatre has been constructed in the Museum and adds a new element to the wide-range of exhibitions and events which already attract over 4.5 million visitors every year.
The Museum’s scientists, led by paleobiologist Professor Adrian Lister, author of Darwin’s Fossils, have worked closely with the creative producers of the show to ensure it is rooted in authenticity.