Charles Darwin drama at the Natural History Museum

London theatre news: Thursday 19 July 2018


Trish Wadley Productions and Dead Puppet Society will create a 357-seat theatre in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum to host the European premiere of award-winning Darwin drama, The Wider Earth.
Darwin drama The Wider Earth to be staged at Natural History Museum

Image: Trish Wadley Productions, Dead Puppet Society

There's a real treat in store for lovers of drama, history and science as The Wider Earth finds a natural home at South Kensington's world-renowned Natural History Museum, following sold-out seasons in Brisbane and Sydney.

Featuring a cast of seven and 30 extraordinary hand-made puppets representing the exotic wildlife Charles Darwin encountered on his travels, The Wider Earth is 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 show will play in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum from 2 October to 30 December 2018.

Tickets are now on sale with prices ranging from £17.50 to £79.50.

The Natural History 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 will be the first time a performance-based theatre has been built in the museum and adds an exciting new element to the wide-range of exhibitions and events which already attract over 4.5 million visitors every year.

The Wider Earth explores the little-known story of the rebellious young Charles Darwin when, aged only 22, he set out on his daring five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle.

When he departed, he could not have known that this trip would help him reach controversial conclusions about natural selection and lead to his theory of evolution.

The Wider Earth follows Darwin's expedition as uncharted landscapes unfold in a series of dazzling animations and original illustrations from the voyage.

The Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum was beautifully restored in 1999 with a generous capital grant from the Jerwood Foundation to provide a home in the Museum for arts and science exhibitions and activities.

The Museum's scientists, led by paleobiologist Professor Adrian Lister, author of Darwin's Fossils, are working closely with the creative producers of the show to ensure it is rooted in authenticity.

The Natural History Museum's Director of Engagement, Clare Matterson, says ...

"This is a really exciting creative collaboration - bringing together a hugely talented theatrical team and the Natural History Museum's world-renowned scientific expertise.

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.

Photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull and John Fox

Charles Darwin from a photograph by Henry Maull and John Fox

During his 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 production is a tale of exploration and adventure and a thrilling new addition to our autumn offering to visitors.

The team bring to life not only Darwin as a young explorer but also, through intricate puppetry, 30 of the fascinating creatures he met - from an Amazonian iguana to an Arctic tern."

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.

The production was then developed for a further eight months in residence at St. Ann's Warehouse in New York, followed by a workshop at The Lincoln Center in 2015 and went into production with Queensland Theatre for the 2016 world premiere.

The original cinematic score by LA-based producer Tony Buchen and acclaimed ARIA award-winning Australian composer Lior will transport audiences to the exotic and distant lands featured in this courageous production.

Nicholas Paine and David Morton of Dead Puppet Society comment ...

"Puppets and visual theatre go hand in hand.

In a form devoted to using the theatrical elements in such a way that visuals are given the same importance as text, there often comes a time where non-human performers are necessary.

We use puppets to expand the possibilities of what can be presented on stage.

During our time in South Africa we were struck by how young Darwin was throughout his time on the Beagle.

This man in his early twenties seemed to sit at such odds with the image of the elderly gent with a long grey beard, and we decided we wanted to tell this young man's story."

The Wider Earth is presented by Trish Wadley Productions and Dead Puppet Society in association with Glass Half Full Productions.

Show listing information


Join the 22-year-old Darwin on HMS Beagle's daring voyage to the far side of the world, and discover the gripping story behind one of the most important discoveries in history.

The Wider Earth features a cast of seven, remarkable puppetry, an original score and cinematic animations to bring to life uncharted landscapes in the theatrical event of 2018.


Charles Darwin - Bradley Foster

Robert Darwin/Richard Matthews - Ian Houghton

Reverend John Henslow/ Sir John Herschel - Andrew Bridgmont

Robert FitzRoy - Jack Parry-Jones

Jemmy Button - Marcello Cruz

John Clements Wickham/ Adam Sedgwick - Matt Tait

Emma Wedgwood - Melissa Vaughan

Understudy - Rory Fairbairn

Understudy (Emma Wedgwood) - Kim Scopes


Author: David Morton
Composer: Lior, Tony Buchen
Director: David Morton
Designer: David Morton, Aaron Barton
Lighting: David Walters; Lee Curran (UK lighting)
Sound: Tony Brumpton
Projections: Justin Harrison
Dramaturg: Sebastian Born (UK Production Dramaturg), Louise Gough (Australian Production Dramaturg)
Puppetry: Dead Puppet Society
Production: Trish Wadley Productions and Dead Puppet Society in association with Glass Half Full Productions


Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


From: Tuesday 2 October 2018

Closed: Sunday 24 February 2019


Standard: From £22.50


Show website
ActDrop full listing for The Wider Earth

Natural History Museum

Charles Darwin - Wikipedia

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