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Natural History Museum to host purpose-built 350-seat theatre

A new theatre within the Natural History Museum will present the European premiere of The Wider Earth. Photo: Prudence Upton

A theatre is to be built within the Natural History Museum in London for the first time, with a 357-seat venue that will host the European premiere of The Wider Earth.

The theatre space will be purpose built, with an end-on stage and will have raked seating. The stage will have a seven-metre revolve and the theatre will be built within the museum’s Jerwood Gallery.

The Wider Earth is about Charles Darwin, and audiences of the play will pass by the Darwin Centre, which is home to specimens collected by Darwin on his voyage in 1831.

The museum’s scientists are working with the creative producers to ensure the production is authentic.

Produced by Trish Wadley Productions and the Dead Puppet Society, the play – which is receiving its European premiere at the museum – will include a cast of seven alongside 30 puppets.

Natural History Museum director of engagement Clare Matterson said: “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.”

The play is written by David Morton, creative director at Dead Puppet Society.

He said: “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.”

It runs from October 2 to December 30.