Award-winning Darwin drama The Wider Earth has announced its cast which features 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, played by Bradley Foster, who aged only 22, set out on an intrepid five-year voyage on HMS Beagle to distant and exotic lands.
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
is 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. We’re thrilled to be working with our original Australian creative team of Composers and Designers to stage The Wider Earth in such an incredible building.
The new 357-seat theatre, built for the first time in the Jerwood Gallery, will allow audiences to walk among the Natural History Museum’s own specimens after dark. Ticket holders will 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.
The full cast of this ingenious production are: Ian Houghton (War Horse, New London Theatre; This House, Garrick Theatre and UK Tour; The Audience, Gielgud Theatre), Andrew Bridgmont (War Horse, National Theatre; Penny Dreadful, Sky Atlantic; Faustus, Headlong Theatre), Matt Tait (War Horse, National Theatre; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, West End; Dancing at Lughnasa, Lyric Belfast), Bradley Foster (Common, National Theatre; Lessons in Love and Violence, Royal Opera House; Frequently Asked Questions, New Wolsey Theatre), Jack Parry- Jones (Moon Dogs, World Pictures; BANG, Joio Production/Artist Studio/S4C; Macbeth, China Plate), Marcello Cruz (Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s Globe; The Rook, Lionsgate/Starz), Melissa Vaughan (Night Must Fall, Salisbury Playhouse/Tour; The City and The City, Mammoth Screen for BBC; Consensual, Wuthering Heights and The Merchant of Venice, West End Rep Season at The Ambassadors Theatre), Rory Fairbairn (The Importance of Being Earnest, Immersion Theatre; Journey’s End, Immersion Theatre/Mesh Theatre Co.; Jekyll and Hyde, Lion and Unicorn Theatre) and Kim Scopes (A Christmas Carol, Sonia Friedman Productions; Newzoids, ITV/Factory; Becca’s Brunch, Nick Jr/JAM Media/Factory).