Time: September 1, 1831 – October 5, 1836
Place: Around the world
On the Origin of Darwin was originally commissioned by Melanie Joseph of the Foundry Theatre, NYC, 2001. It was first performed by Inverse Theater in December 2004 at the Connelly Theater in NYC.
From 1831 to 1836, the HMS Beagle, a three mast, 10-gun bark with a crew of 74, circled the globe on a commercial and cultural mission. Leaving from Davenport, England, the ship sailed across the Atlantic, moved slowly around South America, traversed the Pacific, shot swiftly about the Horn, and home, all the while stopping to chart, collect, and civilize. Aboard the Beagle was a young English naturalist by the name of Charles Darwin. During the voyage Darwin experienced a diversity of events that were formulated into his theory of evolution. This is and is not that story.
Scene 1: The Office of the Hydrographer of the British Admiralty. Enter Professor George Peacock, Admiral Francis Beaufort, and Captain Robert Fitzroy. Enter an assistant.
Assist- Admiral, behold! A dodo feather from our office in Mauritius!
Beau- Excellent! The fruits of extinction do so charm the ladies.
Peac- This reminds me that the Reverend Leonard Jenyns shall this Friday address the Cambridge Philosophical Society on the divine design of feathers and advance most conclusively the teleological argument from design founded on the unity and perfectibility of created things.
Fitz- He is only forced to do so in response to the most recent blasphemous circular of the wicked Robert Taylor.
Assist- The circular which claims such anathema as ‘Jesus Christ never existed; the Christian religion had no such origin as has been pretended; and it is in no way beneficial to mankind’?
Beau- What, have you read it?
Assist- No, sir.
Fitz- Any man, fine or no, who publicly questions the divine design of feathers should be snackered with a depilated dodo!
Enter John Henslow.
Hen- Gentlemen, Charles Darwin.
Enter Charles Darwin.
Dar- Good morning.