The actor spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about bringing The Wider Earth to London’s Natural History Museum. 

Ian Houghton - courtesy of Pete Bartlett.jpg
(c) Pete Bartlett. 

Hi Ian, thanks so much for talking to me. What can audiences expect from The Wider Earth? A real theatre ‘event’.  It’s a great play about a pivotal part in our history, with an ingenious set, a sweeping score, incredible puppetry, state of the art visuals and all in a perfect location.

What was it about the story that appealed to you the most?  If you ask most people about their knowledge of Charles Darwin, it’s of the elderly, bearded, author of On The Origin of the Species – the ground-breaking book that shook the establishment to its core in the mid 1800s. What I love about our play is that it takes you way back to meet the young impressionable Charles Darwin and charts his voyage on HMS Beagle and his discoveries over the five years of that trip that led him to commit his theories to the page.

There’s quite a few puppets involved – how does that add to your experience of the show as a performer? It’s an additional, but hugely appealing, challenge as an actor to work with the puppets, and we have many fascinating creatures in this production. I was privileged to spend a couple of years in War Horse, so have a great appreciation for what outstanding puppetry can bring to such a production.

Do you think that by bringing The Wider Earth to the Natural History Museum will give it extra resonance?  Absolutely.  There could be no better place to stage a play about Darwin and his discoveries.  The custom built theatre within the Jerwood Gallery is literally only a few steps away from the Darwin Centre at the Museum, which houses some of the artefacts  that Darwin brought back from his voyage on the Beagle.

What do you think audiences will take away from the play? Above all I think they will be blown away by an incredible piece of theatre.  They will hopefully be encouraged to look further into this fascinating slice of history and also find out more about some of the supporting characters in this big adventure.

What are you most looking forward to about performing in The Wider EarthFor me, as a performer, the chance to be a part of the first ever theatrical production within this stunning venue is a huge draw.But, as we work through the rehearsal process, it’s also very apparent that working with this hugely talented team over the next few months is going be a very special experience.

By Emma Clarendon 

The Wider Earth will be playing at the Natural History Museum from the 2nd October. For more information visit:  https://thewiderearth.com/