Launched: 21 January 2001. Last updated: 18 April 2010.


Tom Crean: Sailor on Ice—An Online Audiodrama David Hirzel
The Last South: Pursuit of the Pole G.M. Calhoun
Antarctica Carolyn Raship
Representations of Antarctica—A Bibliography Elizabeth Leane
Cold Comfort Chris Albury
Ice Island: The Wait for Shackleton Marjorie Duffield
Meet the Real Ernest Shackleton: A Comedy about Antarctica Michael Christian
Antarctic Expedition—Could this be the First Antarctic Theatrical Presentation?
Inexpressible Island David Young
Antarctica—The Play—Starts Preview Performances on 25 September David Young
Byrd's Boy Bruce J. Robinson
A Father for my Son Jenny Coverack
The Arctic and Antarctic in Image, Word, and Song Douglas Post
'Endurance' - A Play Louise Smith
Terra Nova Ted Tally
Terra Nova Ted Tally
'These Rough Notes': Scott's Last Expedition Pamela Davis and Kim Crosbie

TOM CREAN: SAILOR ON ICE—An Online Audiodrama

David Hirzel has directed our attention to an "online audiodrama" which he has written focusing on Tom Crean. It's an ambitious project. The first two episodes have been released. There will be an eventual total of ten (three on Discovery, four on Terra Nova, three on Endurance). You can find out more about this undertaking and download the first two episodes (free) at

David maintains a blog at

(18 April 2010)


This play by G.M. Calhoun, based on the journals of Scott and Amundsen, begins a British tour on 9 April in Canterbury and ends on 24 May 2008 in Plymouth. In between it will play Maidenhead, Oxford, Musselburgh, Bloxwich, Reading, Trowbridge, Swindon. Hemel Hempstead, Darlington, Settle, Newcastle, Petersfield, Telford, Newbury. Sudbury, London, Brighton, Hexham, Inverness, Ludlow, Torrington, Chipping Norton, Bath, Eastleigh, and Lyme Regis (in other words, most everywhere in Britain!).The playwright e-mails to say that "pictures at SPRI were used in my research . . . and a visit to the Discovery in Dundee was also useful. The play premiered at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was well received. A synopsis of the play and tour info for those interested is at, which also allows feedback to me from any of you about the play.


"In the style of Brian Friels FAITH HEALER and MOLLY SWEENEY, Britains Robert F. Scott and Norways Roald Amundsen fight their own failings as they race to the South Pole.

Adapted from their exploration journals, each man paints himself and his opponent by marvelous studies of subtext. There are many contrasts with their distinctly competing personalities in an eerily alien and unforgiving landscape.

Their tales intercut, dovetail, revealing themselves through hopes, how they tell the stories of those under their commands, and how they compete in the race of their lives.

Act I covers the preparations and the vast differences in approach between the laid back Amundsen and the experienced planner Scott. As natural opposites they compete with each other in philosphies, leadership styles, and in how they wish the world to view them.

In Act II they race. Each in his own manner must deal not only with the other over his shoulder but with harsh physical unknowns and their interior insecurities.

In Act III the race to the Pole ends yet the journey back to safety becomes a new contest, a literal race of their lives with even more contrasts than before. How can one man cope with mental tragedy while Death looms as the ultimate winner?

Can the loser handle being THE LAST SOUTH?"

Source: From the website
—Thanks to G.M. Calhoun
(23 March 2008)


Was presented during August (11, 13, 17, 22, 25) as a part of The 2007 New York International Fringe Festival.
The New School for Drama Theater, 151 Bank Street, New York.
"Travel to Antarctica with BFF's Winnie and Magda as they discover, like, true south, true love and a very dashing polar bear. Adventure! Romance! Parkas! Strangely ominous penguins!Anything else? Oh right—Tragedy!You can't leave out tragedy."
Written/created by: Carolyn Raship
Directed by Carolyn Raship
Presented by Fevvers Productions

Reviewed by Josephine Cashman
Aug 11, 2007
Magda, the bookish and shy new girl at school, meets the flirtatious and outgoing Winnie in science class and immediately they become Best Friends Forever, that kind of close, lively, and adventurous friendship that can only happen at 15. They talk over each other in their excitement even as they finish each other's sentences as they tell us about their impulsive decision to travel to Antarctica to find the magnetic South Pole, certain that "it will change everything." And it does.

Produced by Fevvers Productions and written and directed by Carolyn Raship, this is an adventure of fantastic and imaginative proportions. Do they actually travel to Antarctica or is it just an elaborate game of pretend? While it's not entirely clear, it's certainly real enough to Magda and Winnie, who meet oddly sinister penguins, see whales, encounter weather they hadn't quite prepared for, and encounter polar bears who are clearly a world away from their natural habitat.

Maggie Cino and Jessi Gotta enthusiastically throw themselves into the story, and quickly win the audience over with their vivacious characterizations. There are charming and laugh-out-loud moments, such as their dance as they prepare to travel far south with parkas from Marshall's, and the imaginary slide show they hope to present to their friends upon their return. Cino, as Magda, is excellent at conveying both envy and wistfulness as she surveys Winnie's popular and fearless ways with boys. Gotta is winsome as boy-crazy Winnie, running off with the mysterious and romantic White Bear, played by Christopher Lueck. The White Bear offers his help in return for time with one of the girls, and Magda encourages Winnie to go with him. Lueck is marvelous with his physicality and his White Bear is an extraordinary creation. With echoes of the classic Cupid and Psyche Myth (and many other folk and fairy tales), the White Bear is clearly not what he seems, and his presence and secrecy creates a rift between the two BFFs, and the conclusion of their journey is both comical and heartbreaking. Raship's direction is lyrical and spirited, and the set design by Daniel ZS. Jagendorf and sound design by Daniel McKleinfeld are inspired, evoking the childlike wonder and trepidation at the unknown tundra of Antarctica and life, and adulthood, itself. Raship uses the actors' background in physical theatre to maximum effect, and some of the effects of it are striking. The theatre itself feels a little too big for the play, and the story might have been helped along in a more intimate setting. But the cast and crew have clearly worked together before and their enjoyment is contagious as they create an inventive, magical world. Don't miss this playful romp of a show. You'll leave with a lilt in your step and a smile on your face.

Source: via Thanks to Valmar Kurol.
(11 October 2007)


The following is from Elizabeth Leane's 'Representations of Antarctica—A Bibliography' which appears at

The following bibliography documents published plays; published 'drama in verse form'; and plays performed but not yet published. Performances are listed under the play's title, and published plays are listed under the author's name, according to the MLA citation system.

Andrews, J.W. "Antarctica: A Narrative of the Bubble Nothing." Triptych for the Atomic Age. Boston: Branden Press, 1970.

Australis; or, The City of Zero. By J.C. Williamson. Music by Bernard Espinasse. Perf. Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney, 1900. Sydney: John Andrew & Co. 1900.

Brenton, Howard. "Scott of The Antarctic: Or, What God Didn't See." Plays for Public Places: Gum & Goo, Wesley, Scott of the Antarctic. London: Eyre Methuen, 1972.

Endurance. By Louise Smith. Dir. Emmanuelle Chaulet. Perf. Andy's Summer Playhouse, Wilton Center, New Hampshire. 26 Aug. 2000. [This play was written for, and performed by, actors ranging from 9 to 15 years of age.]

A Father for My Son. By Jenny Coverack and Robert Edwards. Perf. Jenny Coverack at Royal Geographical Society headquarters at 1 Kensington Gore, London. 13 June 2001. [Adapted from Louisa Young's biography of Scott, and Scott's autobiography and diaries, this production premiered in Cotohele, Cornall in October 2000 and was performed in various locations around Britain in 2001, 2002 and 2003. It was also staged on the M/V Yubov Orlova during a trip to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula in Jauary 2003. The June 13 performance was staged in support of the Royal Geographical Society's New Initiatives Programme.]

Great Scott! By David Burke. Composed by David Jensen. Perf. Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra, 27 Oct. 1997; King's College School, Cambridge, 17 Nov. 2001.

Ice Island: The Wait for Shackleton. By Marjorie Duffield. Dir. Lori Steinberg. Perf. Melting Pot Theatre New York City, 14 Nov. 19 Dec. 1999.

Karge, Manfred. Conquest of the South Pole. Trans. Tinch Minter and Anthony Vivis. London: Methuen, 1988.

Kathleen's Antarctic. Written/dir. Richard Huber. Research/concept creator Bronwyn Judge. Perf. Fortune Theatre, Dunedin. 8-16 March 2002.

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Part One: Millennium Approaches. New York: Theatre Communciations Group, 1993.

Meet the Real Ernest Shackleton: A Comedy About Antarctica. Written and directed by Michael Christian; choreographed by Ron Schwinn, music by Terry Radigan. Perf. Sande Shurin Theatre, New York City, 9-26 Sept. 2004.

Nabakov, Vladimir. "The Pole (Polyus)". The Man from the USSR and Other Plays. 1924. Trans. Dmitri Nabokov. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984: 267-83. [Also pubished in The Wide White Page: Writers Imagine Antarctica. Ed. Bill Manhire. Wellington: Victoria UP, 2004: 156-166.]

South Polar Expedition. Perf. Royal Victoria Theatre, Hobart, Australia. 3 May 1841.
[This theatrical extravaganza was reviewed in the Hobart Town Advertiser, 7 May 1841. Accounts of the play can be found in:

Savour, Ann. "Hobart and the Polar Regions, 18301930." Tasmanian Insights; Essays in Honour of Geoffrey Thomas Stilwell. Hobart: State Library of Tasmania, 1992. 175-191: (177-178).
Fleming, Fergus. Barrow's Boys. London: Granta, 1998: 350-351; and
Woodward, F. Portrait of Jane: A Life of Lady Franklin. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 195: 230.]

Stewart, Douglas. "The Fire on the Snow." The Fire on the Snow and The Golden Lover: Two Plays for Radio. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1944. [First performed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 6 June 1941. Prod. Frank D. Clewlow.]

Sur. Written and directed by Ronald Weihs, based on the short story by Ursula K. Le Guin. Perf. Artword Theatre, Toronto, 27 Nov. 14 Dec. 2003.

Tally, Ted. Terra Nova: A Play. New York: Nelson Doubleday, 1981.

Ticket of Leave. Adapted version of a Victorian farce entitled A Ticket-of-Leave, by Watts Phillips [Clyde, Ohio: Ames & Holgate, c. 1862]. Perf. Gilbert Scott, Frank Wild, and Horace Buckridge. The Royal Terror Theatre, Ross Island, Antarctica. 25 June 1902. [Believed to be the first play performed in Antarctica, "Ticket of Leave" was presented on a makeshift stage in Discovery Hut (christened "The Royal Terror Theatre" for the occasion), Ross Island, on 25 June 1902. The cast included Horace Buckridge as Mrs Quiver, Frank Wild as Mr Quiver, and Gilbert Scott as Mary Ann the housemaid. The play was hailed as a "screaming comedy" and considered a "great success" by its enthusiastic (and captive) audience. Pages from the script were found in rubbish around Discovery Hut during its restoration in 1963-64. The programe for the evening is held in the archives of Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand.]

Young, David. Inexpressible Island. Winnipeg: J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing, 2000. [First performed in Toronto, Canada, in 1997. The play was performed in the UK in 2001 under the title "Antarctica". First published by Scirocco Drama in 1998.]

Bibliography compiled as part of project undertaken by Dr Elizabeth Leane, School of English, Journalism and European Languages, University of Tasmania.


--R. Stephenson
(4 May 2007)


David Stam told me about this work performed at P.S. 122 (Performance Space 122) in New York, March 11-14, 2004. The program gives the subtitle as "A Love Letter to Antarctica," and goes on to say: "A fantasia on ice, isolation, desire, and penguin envy. What do you long for in the only place on earth no one owns and no one is from? Cold Comfort explores the existential essentials found in a dozen shades of white, the ache of a country song, the craving for a fresh tomato, strip poker with penguins, and the glorious difference betrween -50° F and -60° F."

Cold Comfort
Although March is supposed to usher in spring, P.S. 122 will bring dance audiences back into the heart of winter this month when it presents Karen Sherman's Cold Comfort. A dance/performance piece set in Antarctica, Cold Comfort explores desire, hypoxia and something called "penguin envy." Sherman claims to question what can be "longed for in the only place on earth no one owns and no one is from?" March 11-14, Thurs.-Sat. 7:30 pm, Sun. 5:00 pm. Tickets $15. P.S. 122, 150 1st Avenue at East 9th Street. (212) 477-5288.

It's also be produced in Minneapolis, Montreal and probably elsewhere:

At the Red Eye Theater,15 West 14th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55403: Fri-Sat-Sun, June 10-11-12, 2005
"Recently arrived to the Twin Cities, choreographer Karen Sherman, whose work is known for its queer, feminist perspective, persistent humor and kamikaze physicality, opens this year's Isolated Acts with a full- length dance/performance piece set in Antarctica. Desire, hypoxia, penguin envy, nurse fantasies and loss of gender all surface in this show about the only place on earth no one owns and no one is from. COLD COMFORT examines how extreme isolation, aloneness and loneliness yield sensitivity, passion and a high-octane fantasy life. Featuring Karen Sherman with Joann Furnans, Hannah Kramer, Morgan Thorson, Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder."

Here's a review:

June 27, 2005
Lightsey Darst
Lightsey Darst writes about the first in Red Eye's Works in Progress and Isolated Acts Series: Karen Sherman's "Cold Comfort" earlier this month at the Red Eye Theater.

"Cold Comfort": One Reading

You've come to overwinter in Antarctica. You're a normal person, you have a love, someone to argue about dish-washing with, you have a house, you have geraniums, taxes, aging parentsthe kind of complexity that requires lists, calendars. But the white continentwhen you first see it something falls away on the inside. The continual white that might be crushed paper, the cold so deep it feels imagined. Days pass and you don't get used to it, this predictable but unbelievable landscape. And whatever it was that fell inside you, it keeps falling, like ice into water at the far edge of Antarctica, far from you.

Research; paper and ice pick. The suit you've been informed is saving your life (but you can't quite believe it). You've been watching the penguins on off-hours, their decisions about when to go and where, their anonymity (all in the same suits), their androgyny. Sometimes when you're struggling back to shelter in a steep wind falling off to one side or the other seems more plausible than going on. Not that you want to die, but you're curious.

Out alone on the ice one day, you start imagining postcards you'd send to your love at home if only there were a postcard stall somewhere around here. That predictabilitythere will be no postcard stallis starting to get to you, or rather, you're starting to get to it, wondering what's true and what they just say to keep you safest. Your postcards would be comically all white"two ghosts eating marshmallows in a snowstorm"with a few crackled lines, a few blue shades, to lend verisimilitude (the world does a good job of looking real). You sign "Love, X" to "Here's the ice floe where I turn right to get home." You've stumbled. "Here's where I went wrong." The clipboard lands about a continent away. "Here's me waving the flag of surrender in Antarctica," you sign off.

So cold. You're blue-lipped. Of course you've made a mistake. Rational thoughtscienceis trying to intervene to save you, set off a flare, hold still or locate. In the real world you wouldn't need rational science to save you; strange then that you've lived by it your whole life. These are not the right thoughts. Penguins slide near, bobbling their heads, following each other, standing facing in various directions and then all in the same direction. While you're taking off your heavy boots (you lost the ice pick earlier), you realize that the penguins use more than the four or five movements you've seen before. One is ice-skating near you, perhaps for you. You watch; you turn on your back. The penguin takes your handhow doesn't matter. Soon you are spinning dizzily with the penguins to the Bee Gees, celebrating an easy life, shedding layers of accumulated hurt into the arctic cold.

One of your old fantasies comes to lifea silly fantasy, one you could never quite explain to your home love. A nurse gives you CPR and then the two of you frolic, laughing, her prim white underwear showing under her short dress. You seize each other's ankles and lick; you don't worry about where this is going, who's in control. Why was sex so complicated once? You never meant harm. Politics and sexall those words for what could be so simpleyou haven't spoken all day.

Nothing they told you was true. The sastrugiwind-driven ridges in the iceare not barren, but are growing tomatoes. You devour one and are surprised by how hungry you are, how fleshy and sweet the fruit is. The penguins grow more human than you, and you can't tell whether they're imitating you or whether you're imitating them; one sits beside you and copies your gestures, your sadness. You are sad until the penguin comes; then you're confusedwas it only gestures of sadness, not ever real sadness? what is there to be sad about? the penguin is a geniusand then you're hot. You throw off your overalls, struggle out of your long johns.

You need ice. You imagine all the equipment you used to wear to protect you from yourself; now you'd like to wear nothing, except ice and yes, a penguin. You'd like to wear a penguin where it counts. Those genitals you've been wearing all your life, by which they called you one thing and not another, said you'd like one thing and not another, you'd like to adorn them with a penguin, a sign of transparency and play. You're never going back now. You dance by yourself and you're not lonely. You find a block of icecool like someone's sleeping backand hug it against your breasts. No one will find you. But you're not lost.

I don't have much to add to Karen Sherman's "Cold Comfort." Sherman does, I think, exactly what she wants to; the piece is complete, clear, entertaining, well-designed. Sherman's especially adept at gradually expanding the vocabulary of the penguins from their initial life-like twitches to full-fledged dance. Her own dancing also shinesespecially in her ability to fill stillness with tension.
One comment. "Cold Comfort" analyzes the life of the bodyits need for food, play, sexuality, and warmth. I'm amused, delighted, interested, convinced, I share the critique of our icy social systems, but I'm not moved. Perhaps the performance works so perfectly, every element falling into place, that I find no entrance, no mystery to investigate. Or perhaps it's just my bias toward the usual romantic themes: love, death, grief, growth. I look forward to Sherman's next work for illumination.


(4 May 2007)


David Stam also told me about Ice Island: The Wait for Shackleton, by Marjorie Duffield, which he saw in 1999 in a Melting Pot Theatre Company production in New York.

Here's a review:

"When Sir Ernest Shackelton embarked on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition he hoped to be remembered as the first to cross the Antarctic continent. While the expedition failed to achieve its goal it has taken its place in the history of antarctic exploration as an epic of heroic perseverance in the face of impossible odds.

In 1914 Shackleton, who had come within 100 miles of being the first man to reach the South Pole in 1909, set sail on a ship aptly named Endurance. His goal was to nab one of exploration's last prizes: the crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. But his boat never made its intended harbor. Instead, it got stuck in ice in the Weddell Sea, buffeted by 200-mile-per-hour winds and 100-degree-below-zero temperatures.

What followed was a two-tiered saga of courage and determination. After months of imprisonment on the doomed ship the 28 men managed to navigate their way to a remote slip of land known as Elephant Island. Then, in what seemed like a foolhardy enterprise, Shackleton and 5 crew members set forth in an open life boat to reach South Georgia Island and return to rescue the 22 men left behind. This precarious 800-mile voyage is one part of the story; the remaining men's perseverance through four months with rations for less than half that time is another.

The recent high profile exhibition, "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition", at the Museum of Natural History and an accompanying book chockablock full of photos by one of the expedition's key participants, Frank Hurley, managed to capture the concurrent drama of the rescue-bound crew in the open boat and the larger group hanging on at Elephant Island. It also rekindled the fire of public interest.

It would seem that a dramatized version would be possible only in a film which could cross-cut from one group to another (Hollywood has already hired Wolfgang Peterson who made Das Boot to do just that). And yet, playwright Marjorie Duffield has borrowed a page from Sir Ernest's can-do optimism, and written a play which, while decidedly low-tech, does convey the whole saga. Instead of attempting to follow Shackleton and his small group to the high seas, she focuses on the drama of the those awaiting his return -- and so the title and it's explanatory tagline.

The result is less an adventure story than a tone poem and a psychological group portrait of men under extreme duress. For a while the seven members of the cast assume various roles as they narrate the events leading up to the aborted voyage and the appointment of Frank Wild, the ship's second in command, to take charge while Shackleton embarked on the rescue mission. While bits and pieces of direct action are interspersed into this narrative segment, and this story telling device does efficiently set the scene for "the wait for Shackleton", the lineup of actors reciting events does start things off with something of a talking heads feeling that seems counter to the high drama of the circumstances. Still, what is lacking in terms of conveying a true sense of the men's bone chilling discomfort is offset by many forceful moments: the use of the narrators as a chorus of dogs and crows, the camaraderie and the play-within-a-play (Hamlet, what else?) which serves first as a distraction and eventually as the means for dealing with the ultimate desperate act of survival.

Once freed from the constraints of the presentational narration, the actors all do commendable work in fleshing out their main roles. Bostin Christopher adds some welcome touches of humor as Charles Green, the cook who mourns having to leave behind his "beautiful parsley knives" when the sinking ship forces everyone to head for land with only a few essentials. Ram˜n de Ocampo is particularly touching as the young stowaway who nobly insists on falling victim to the sword in the final Hamlet-Laertes duel.

Under the direction of Lori Steinberg, who has previously proved her resourcefulness in working within limited budget confines, the play has been given a handsome staging. The production is considerably enhanced by Greg Pliska's original and highly evocative musical score and the double bass playing by Mark Wade.

The fact that the man who set this expedition in motion is a major character in absentia will disappoint people who have been caught up in what the Wall Street Journal referred to as "Shackleton fever" prior to the Museum of Natural History exhibit. On the other hand, anyone interested in his story and the Endurance epic will want to see this new dramatic rendering of the day to day details of how these men survive their icy ordeal."

ICE ISLAND: The Wait For Shackleton
by Marjorie Duffield
Directed by Lori Steinberg
With: Christopher Bums, Bostin Christopher, Ramon de Ocampo, Michael Medeiros, Charles McIver, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., and Lou Sumrall
Set Design: Anna Louizos
Lighting Design: Debra Dumas
Costume Design: Sue Gandy
Original music: Greg Pliska
Running time: 1 hour and 10 minutes without intermission
Melting Pot Theatre, 311 W. 43rd St. ((8th/9th Avs), 279-4200
11/07/99-12/19/99; opening 11/14/99
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on 11/14/99 performance.


(4 May 2007)


The third Antarctic production that David Stam recently told me about is Meet the Real Ernest Shackleton: A Comedy about Antarctica, by Michael Christian, which had its New York premiere in 2004 at the Sande Shurin Theatre in New York.

"Celebrating the centennial of Ernest Shackleton's marriage to Emily Dorman, a marriage that incited his monumental obsession with crossing the Antarctic continent, a group of New York actors, choreographer Ron Schwinn, and recording artist Terry Radigan have produced a tribute to the man and his mission a retelling of the Shackleton saga in the new musical Meet the Real Ernest Shackleton A Comedy about Antarctica. The story focuses on his desire to impress his wife and the resulting heroic miscalculation that led him to sail his ship, the Endurance, into the Antarctic Sea where it became stuck in the ice and eventually sank, stranding Shackleton and his crew for two years.

Shackleton made history when he accomplished the impossible by bringing all his men home safely after a two-year life-and-death struggle. Meet the Real Ernest Shackleton A Comedy about Antarctica is the first comedy about his expedition. Written and directed by Michael Christian (author of The Art of Kissing), the story is a romantic comedy that asks an obvious question, How does it feel to get stuck in Antarctica for two years with twenty-seven men, one of whom you suspect is in love with your wife?

A Special Note to Shackleton Fans from the Director:

• This musical features costumes accurate to the stitch that are replicas of the gear used by the legendary explorer.

• The production will also feature the first Off-Off Broadway harpoon duel and a spectacular sinking of the Endurance at the conclusion of Act I.

• Actors have received special training in portraying Antarctic conditions.

• Since the only musical instrument Shackleton had on the expedition was a banjo, composer Terry Radigan will play stringed instruments, including banjo.

• The play contains mature and frank depictions of certain adult situations. Parental discretion advised.

If you like Shackleton and exploring . . . If you like fashion and comedy . . . You'll love this musical!

CAST (September 2004 Production)
Arol Jahns - Sir Ernest Shackleton
Kristen Vermilyea - Emily Shackleton
John Squire - Captain Worsley
Keith Chandler - Tom Crean
Daniel Koenig - Mr. Orde-lees
John Calvanico - Mr. Hussey

Michael Christian (Director and Producer)
Arol Jahns (Co-Producer and Set Designer)
Stephen Riscia (Assistant Director)
Ron Schwinn (Choreographer)
John Squire (Set Designer)
Dan Zisson (Fight Director)
Megan Hafner (Lighting Designer)
Lauren Walker (Assistant Stage Manager)
Nick Houy (Assistant Stage Manager)
Dexter Taylor (Sound Effects Designer)
Sami Metwasi (Stagehand)
Brooke MacCauley (Costume Designer)
Kristin Germany (Assistant Stage Manager)"


Here's a review:

An Explorer Both Musical and Jealous
Published: September 21, 2004

"The Marx brothers being currently unavailable, it has fallen to a cast of lesser lights to try to leach lunacy from musical fluff. Under the title "Meet the Real Ernest Shackleton: A Comedy About Antarctica,'' this slight, silly trifle is inhabiting the Sande Shurin Theater on the sixth floor of 311 West 43rd Street in Clinton through Sunday.

This show about Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), the Antarctic explorer, proceeds from the assumption that his famous 1914 expedition aboard the doomed Endurance was spurred less by a passion to make history by traversing 2,000 miles of the continent than by the torture of jealousy inflicted by his fickle wife, Emily.

Even ignoring the balky scenery, the inconsistent accents and the sometimes curtain-muffled music played on guitar and banjo by its composer, Terry Radigan, one is left with the inescapable conclusion that the show's comic potential stops somewhere around sophomoric when it needs a cast capable of reaching absolute zany.

Under the direction of Michael Christian, who also wrote the book and the sometimes diverting lyrics, the plot maddens Shackleton (Arol Jahns) by making his suspected rival for the affections of Emily (Kristen Vermilyea) a member of his expedition, Tom Crean (Keith Chambers). If Shackleton leaves Crean behind when they sail from England, his rival has at least two years alone with Emily. If he takes him along, he must share his distasteful company.

So the bumbling, impetuous Shackleton, decides to sail with Crean and spends the voyage plotting against him, trying to make him look bad or do him in, or to make himself appear heroic for Emily's sake. Most of the time, though, Shackleton is saved from his idiocy by the advice and machinations of the skipper of the Endurance, Captain Worsley, neatly and comically underplayed by John Squire.

Despite the skipper's best efforts, though, this show, like the Endurance, sinks."


(4 May 2007)


A play presented in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1841 on the return of the 'Erebus' and 'Terror,' under the command of James Clark Ross, from the Antarctic:

"The officers renewed their old friendships and hospitality was showered upon them. A new play called the 'Antarctic Expedition' was put on at the theatre - 'rather indifferently got up and not much better acted' in McCormick's opinion, but the Hobart Town Courier reported that on the whole the piece surpassed expectations though it was much better written than played. The Epilogue, at least, was a triumph; after 'Fame' had sounded the trumpet and the full chorus had sung 'Rule Britannia', Britannia advanced addressing the actor playing the part of Ross:

'Victory is yours - but in a glorious cause -
With science - genius - you have waged your wars
From pole to pole you've conquered as you run;
And well you've won, the ocean's icy throne.
Tasmania hails you as her favoured guest
And Fame your triumphs loudly will attest;
(advancing to the audience)
When time rolls on, should wealth and fortune smile,
And bless with happiness this favour'd isle;
Should Britain, ruined by the weight of power,
Of wealth and luxury, in an evil hour,
E'er fall inglorious, (for fall she must
The greatest empires crumble into dust,
And nations flourish, in their turn decay,
While others rise the glory of the day)
Then perhaps Tasmania that proud flag shall rear
(pointing to the Union Jack)
And shine the Britain of this hemisphere
Nations around may own her sovereign sway,
Her fleets may sail, where Ross first led the way,
And those cold seas, to all but him unknown,
May furnish wealth, that might uphold a throne.
Then after ages shall revere his name,
Crowned as it is on science and by fame,
His the high guerdon, his the envied prize,
(Dearer than victory in a conqueror's eyes)
By genius, science earned - a name that never dies'.
This splendid vision of the future of Tasmania was greeted with tumultuous applause."
--From 'Ross in the Antarctic,' by M.J. Ross (Whitby: Caedmon, 1962). pp. 115-16.

Thanks to Gordon Bain for calling this to our attention.
--R. Stephenson
(8 August 2005)


A play set in Antarctica will be featured at Ottawa's Great Canadian Theatre Company April 15-May 02, 2004.

"Inexpressible Island" by Canadian playwright David Young was inspired by the story of Scott's Northern Party of six, including Commander Victor Campbell and the geologist Raymond Priestley, that was forced to spend several months of the 1912 winter in a snow cave in the Terra Nova Bay area. The 1997 play has been widely acclaimed by critics.
--Thanks to Valmar Kurol

Note: See the next entry--Antarctica. Apparently the same play.
--R. Stephenson
(21 April 2004)


Antarctica, a new play by David Young based on Scott's Northern Party, opens at London's Savoy Theatre on 9 October 2001 with preview performances starting on 25 September, appropriately the same date as Christie's polar sale (see below).

From a recently received flyer on the play: "April 1912 and while Captain Scott struggles to the South Pole, six men find themselves cut off from the expedition. With no winter clothing, only seven weeks of rations and six months away from the advent of spring they face the biggest challenge of all--the fight for survival. Based on a true story, this critically accalaimed new play by David Young was a smash hit in Toronto in 1998 and now receives its UK premiere at the Savoy Theatre. Antarctica is an inspiring new play, which will take you on a powerful journey to the ultimate destination--the human spirit."

And here's some of what the website GOOD SHOW! [] has to say about it:

Performances: Mon - Sat 7.30 p.m., Wed & Sat mats at 2.30 p.m. (No mat Oct 17th)
Tickets: £12.50 - £35
Author: David Young
Director: Richard Rose Actors: Mark Bazeley, Stephen Boxer, Darrell D'Silva, Jason Flemyng, Eddie Marsan, Ronan Vibert

Based on a true story, Antarctica is set in April 1912 when Captain Scott was struggling to reach the South Pole. The play is about the six men who found themselves cut off from the expedition in a place they called "Inexpressible Island"....Sets and special effects are reported to be spectacular.

Canadian Playwright David Young also co-wrote Fire, loosely based on the life of rock-'n-roller Jerry Lee Lewis. His play Glenn, about Glenn Gould, was staged at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, and at Stratford. Inexpressible Island, (an earlier form of Antarctica), was a Governor General's Award finalist. Young is former president of Coach House Press which, in its day, was one of the most vital publishers to Canada's book industry. His current projects include an extensive television drama about medical relief work in South Sudan.

Mark Bazely, whose previous stage work includes The Real Thing and The Seagull at the Donmar Warehouse, will play Lt Campbell. Priestly [sic] will be played by Stephen Boxer, whose numerous stage credits include At Our Table, White Chameleon, The Shape of the Table and Once in a While the Odd Thing Happens, at the National and more recently Snogging Ken at the Almeida. Darrell D'Silva will play Abbott. D'Silva has appeared in the TV series Out of the Blue and his stage credits include Closer and Further than the Furthest Thing.

Jason Flemyng of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame, will play Browning. Since "Lock Stock," he has gone on to appear in the films Snatch, The Bunker, Rock Star and From Hell. Eddie Marsan, whose most recent stage roles were in The Homecoming and Chips With Everything, will play Dickason. His television work includes appearances in EastEnders, Grange Hill and Game On. The final cast member, Ronan Vibert will play Dr Levick. Vibert's last stage appearance was in War and Peace at the National. His films include Stephen Frears' Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and Roman Polanski's The Pianist.

--Thanks to Wendy Driver and Brenda Clough.

UPDATE: Four enthusiastic Antarcticans went to a preview performance on 27 September. I must say the Savoy Theatre is a gem but we all agreed that the same couldn't be said about the play. Overly long, tedious and boring a good bit of the time and none of us could really figure out what the playwright was trying to say. We also wondered what was true and what was made up. The staging is interesting though.
--R. Stephenson

UPDATE: Several reports received from those at the opening night. Here's one: "We went to the opening night of 'Antarctica' last night - LOTS of Polar people - descendants, modern explorers - pop stars - Sting and Boy George, models - Claudia Scheifer (?sp). Most people liked it and thought that they had done a good job, including myself (although it takes a bit of getting used to the idea that the characters are composites and not purely historical! I imagine that doesn't matter if you know nothing of the men). They apparently did some re-working last week. (That's why I don't like previews, they are only a form of rehearsal!) So a really "happening" event, as they say. It will be interesting to see what the critics make of it (which will make or break it, one suspects)."

UPDATE: The Evening Standard reviewed the play in its 10 October issue. Here's a bit of it: "The play's designer Rae Smith, has created a grim wasteland, all black ice, claustrophobic cave areas, and menacing vistas. A frozen cliff face rears up like a steep hill, over which bearded chaps struggle in murky light, while a gale rages. Antarctica here we come. But from then on it is, so to speak, downhill all the way." Not encouraging.

In a recent e-mail (25 October 2001), here's what Brenda Clough reports:

The play ANTARCTICA (website at is very loosely based upon the plight of Scott's Northern Party. These unfortunates were supposed to do a bunch of scientific work over the Polar winter. They were landed on the ice but then the ship was driven away by storms and ice before many supplies could be unloaded. So they were stuck in Antarctica for the winter season. They dug themselves a snow cave and hid out until spring, suffering from cabin fever, cold and semi-starvation, their rations eked out with seals and penguins, until they walked back to Scott's main base 250-some miles away. Hardly anybody knows about them these days because Scott's own tragedy is far more flashy. However, the basic situation was presented well enough -- the friend I went with assured me she had grasped what was going on.

Even to the casual eye this historical scenario is fraught with difficulty for the stage -- fairly static, a very limited all-male cast, characters who were famous for stoicism and that stiff upper lip. Playwright David Young did some fancy things to get over the hurdles. The most successful was a fantastic set, consisting of a huge slab of thick crackly blue plexiglass mounted on hydraulics. It was the size of the stage itself, and could tilt to be the roof of their cave, the surface of the glacier, or a cliff over which the actors could leap or fall or dangle on ropes or pretend to scale with crampons. (Blocking the production must have been a job and a half, though. The last thing you'd need was an actor squashed like a bug underneath the slab, and I bet they crushed quite a number of props.) The only other bit of the set was a library corner, for the flashbacks.

More standard items in the bag of tricks were copious flashbacks and aggressive interpersonal conflicts -- the stoicism goes right over the side. The price of this dramaturgy is that the play may run long, and this one did, nearly three hours. The other root problem, which reviewers bitterly complained of, is that the play doesn't really end. In fact it cannot -- the play begins with them stuck in their cave, and it ends with them leaving it to trek to Scott's base. To add another section, of them manhauling across the ice, would be impossible, and besides somebody else has already done the manhauling-across-the-glacier play. The solution, IMO, is to place the resolution in the flashback sequences. That bit of it just petered away -- a mistake.

More personally, if you are familiar with the historical material, you can spot all the juicy bits that the writer cherry-picked from other epics and stuck into the script. This is not a historical play. Like the recent MUSKETEER movie, it's a drama peopled with characters that happen to have the same names as people we know in other contexts. It's distracting to sit there and watch Mawson's injuries, Cherry-Garrard's words, Oates' dilemma, come bobbing up. On the other hand, assuming an audience that isn't well-versed in these arcane details, why not give them all the snappy ones? A demented explorer biting off his own finger and spitting it out, who could ask for anything more?

The empty house when they took the curtain call must have been heartbreaking. There was a surge of people (perhaps a dozen) just before the house lights went down, who must have been sitting in the upper balconies and were invited down into the orchestra. Still there were less than a hundred bodies. Oh, the acres and acres of empty velveteen cushions! My big regret is that we didn't wait at the stage door and assure the actors that it was all Osama bin Laden's fault really, and that we (or I, at least) had come all the way from America to see them. I doubt the production will last out the month.


Recent issues of The New Yorker magazine have carried the following under Theatre: "Byrd's Boy. Bruce J. Robinson's drama, about a homeless man who believes he's the son of Admiral Byrd. In previews through June 10 [2001]. Opens June 11 at 7. (Primary Stages, 354 W. 45th St. 333-4052.)"

Has anyone seen this? It would be interesting to know whether the Antarctic features in this if at all.

UPDATE: Here's some additional information from Billy-Ace Baker:

Byrd's Boy. Winner of the Norris New Play Prize. By Bruce J. Robinson, Presently Playing in New York City, off Broadway $40.00, June 11 - July 1 [2001].

Review & Bio-Notes Prepared by Billy-Ace Baker. This review was compiled from press releases and other materials found on the Internet and in my personal collection:

Byrd's Boy is a new play by Bruce J. Robinson, inspired by the story of Richard E. Byrd, Jr., the son of the famous polar explorer, who died of malnutrition and dehydration brought on by Alzheimer's disease.
It was September 1988. Just as she had done every night for twelve years the night watchwoman Birdie MacCauley entered that Baltimore warehouse. What waited in the dark was someone with the power to turn her 33-year-old life upside-down. What waited was a bedraggled, apparently homeless, crazy, old man with absolutely no idea of who he was.
Inspired by real events Byrd's Boy traces this unlikely pair: a brilliant but frustrated African-American woman who needs to recognize her own strength, and a deranged Caucasian man who needs to recognize his own name.
An African American woman offers a shattered 68-year-old son of a prominent Naval hero solace, friendship and a key to his identity. Based on a newspaper account, this dramatic comedy explores what a child needs from a parent and a parent from a child.

BALTIMORE: a warehouse, full of piled-up trunks. A crazy old man, alone in it, seems to think he is in Antarctica. He climbs the piles, plants flags, recites statistics, chatters to imaginary penguins.
A woman enters, takes a swig from her flask, sweeps her flashlight about, and discovers the old man.
That's how the play begins. Byrd's son, who had Alzheimer's, took a train from Boston to Washington, where his father was to be honored, but wound up getting off the train and somehow dying in a Baltimore warehouse.
With this slender nugget of fact, Robinson has concocted a soapy psychodrama in which two lonely souls learn some lessons from each other.
The woman, whose name is Birdie, is soon bringing the man food and drink. They celebrate Halloween and Christmas together in the warehouse as they bond in their desolation.
In the second act of this two act play Birdie impersonates Admiral Byrd and assures the old man that "I love you, son." So out of a tragic true event, the author has created a melodrama in which two fatherless souls find reconciliation with their dead fathers.

Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. was born on February 12, 1920. The son of the famed polar explorer Richard E. Byrd and Marie Ames Byrd. He was found dead on October 3, 1988, in a Baltimore warehouse. His death was attributed to malnutrition and dehydration to which Alzheimer's disease was a contributing factor. According to the Baltimore Medical Examiner, Byrd, 68, had been missing for three weeks after boarding a train in Boston for a trip to Washington, DC. For unknown reasons he apparently got off the train in Baltimore and began wandering, and ended up in the warehouse where he died.

Byrd Junior served in the United States Navy in World War II. He is buried next to his parents in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery [See Epsisodes 39 and 45b in 'A Low-Latitude Antarctic Gazetteer' elsewhere on this site]. The grave markers for both father and son are of the standard upright service headstones. The wording Richard E. Byrd, Jr., is on both headstones, but with the appropriate dates for each man's birth and death recorded. Although it seems odd, given the wording, the inscription for the Admiral's wife, Marie, is on the back of the son's marker. There is some confusion about the error and it is explained away by a statement that both father and son used the "Jr." on their names. In my book collection I have six books authored by the Admiral and none of them include the "Jr" after his name. At least one Internet site quotes a member of the Byrd family as stating: "My mother's and brother's names on the same stone and the Jr. after both my father's and brother's names are mistakes . . ." But is the mothers inscription on the back of her sons headstone a mistake? Probably not. This is mere speculation on my part, but given the fact that a large part of the reverse side of the Admiral's headstone was filled up with information on his medals and accomplishments it is more likely that the inscription for the sons death was placed on the reverse side of the mother's headstone since her death in 1974 predated his.

It should be noted here, that many memorials to Admiral Byrd across the country, including the CNO designated memorial in the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida include the Jr, after the Admiral's name.

The younger Byrd was also an Old Antarctica Explorer and participated in Operation Highjump. Lt. Richard E. Byrd, Jr., was assigned to the Task Force 68 staff under the Officer In Charge of Scientific Research for Operation Highjump. He was a frequent visitor to the print shop of the USS Mount Olympus where he had envelopes printed with his personal cachet that depicted a penguin in a zoot suit!

--Courtesy Bill-Ace Baker
(15 June 2002)


"An adaptation of Louisa Young's biography and Kathleen Scott's autobiography and diaries.
A play about the remarkable life of Kathleen Scott--widow of Captain R.F. Scott. A moving fascinating story of the woman behind the Antarctic hero. Fund-raising event to support the Society's New Initiatives Programme. Tickets £10."
--From 'Forthcoming Events April - August 2001' of the Royal Geographical Society.

"On Wednesday 13 June [2001], Jenny Coverack stars in the acclaimed plan A Father for My Son, which reveals the remarkable life of Kathleen Scott--widow of Antarctic hero Captain Scott. A fascinating and moving story of this 'modern' woman who refused to live her life as others expected."
--From the 'Newsletter Spring 2001' of the Royal Geographical Society.

Few people know Kathleen Scott--free spirit, the youngest of 11 children--she slept out of doors and set off vagabonding whenever she could. She ran away to Paris to be an artist, looked after refugees in Macedonia, became financially independent and brought up her son, Peter, alone. She rose from obscurity to become a notable figure of the day. Her circle of friends included Nansen, Asquith, Shaw, Barrie, Ibsen, Forster and many others.
A Father for My Son by Jenny Coverack and Robert Edwards.
Louisa Young/Kathleen Scott....Jenny Coverack
Voice of Con....Alan Watson
Harp....Rebecca Wallace
Programme Notes:
This production is an adaptation of Louisa Young's biography and Kathleen's autobiography and diaries. The seeds of A Father For My Son were sown after watching Ted Tally's Terra Nova at the Plymouth Theatre Royal in 1982. With Louisa's kind permission, we set about writing Kathleen's tale, her life portrayed as much as possible through her own words.
Kathleen Scott (1878 - 1947)
Sculptor, mother of Sir Peter Scott and Lord Wayland Kennet, wife of Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) and Lord Hilton Young.
Jenny Coverack
Jenny trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 1997 - 99. In Bristol she has appeared as Katherine in Love's Labours Lost, Nora Shattock in Peace In Our Time, Mrs Norris in Mansfield Park, narrator/werewolf in The Company of Wolves. More recent work includes the Red House Mystery for BBC Radio 4, the film Maisie's Catch and she is currently touring her one woman play A Father for my Son. Jenny has two children and lives with her family on the borders of Devon and Cornwall, and is an experienced sailor.
Robert Edwards (co-writer)
Cambridge English graduate, Athletics Blue, schoolmaster and teacher, he has arranged and directed numerous plays for prison audiences, village halls, the Minack Theatre and West Country venues.
Alan Watson
Graduate of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Rebecca Wallace
Pupil of Kelly College.
--From handouts at the performance.


A multi-media performance by playwright Douglas Post was premiered in Chicago during November 2000 in conjunction with the Newberry Library's exhibit "To the Ends of the Earth: Exploring the Poles" (October 7, 2000 - January 13, 2001; see under 'Events' elsewhere on this site for more complete information) and the Field Museum's concurrent exhibit "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition." It was first performed on November 11th at the Newberry and then as eight school programs from 14-17 November at the Field.

The work "dramatizes the experiences, feelings, and accomplishments of polar explorers from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries with music, projected images, and dramatized readings of first-person accounts."


Andy's Summer Playhouse of Wilton Center, New Hampshire, is celebrating its 30th year of presenting innovative theatre productions by children. One of its productions this summer--playing 2-6 August, 2000--was an interesting and very well done Antarctic piece by Louise Smith, after a concept by Robert Lawson and directed by Emmanuelle Chaulet, entitled Endurance. "Inspired by Shackleton's 'Endurance' expedition of 1914, this tale takes us on a journey to Antarctica in an attempt to map the vast continent. However, ice and fate conspire to turn this exploit into one of the most astonishing survival stories of the 20th century."


Ted Tally's play, Terra Nova will be presented at the Cotuit Center for the Arts weekends from March 10 through April 5, 2000. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and on Sunday at 2. All tickets are $15. Cotuit is on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The number of the Center is 508-428-0669. Terra Nova, which focuses on Robert Scott's Last Expedition, has been staged numerous times since its debut in 1977.

UPDATE: I saw this last Saturday night (18 March) along with 4 other Antarcticans. We all thought it was great, especially for an amateur production. If you're anywhere nearby before the 5th try to make it. The play has been widely performed. The other performances I've seen were by Boston's Huntington Theatre Company (9-31 March, 1985) and sometime after a student production at Keene State College, Keene, NH.
From the Huntington Theatre Company program: "Ted Tally (Playwright) was born in North Carolina in 1952. He graduated with honors from both Yale College and the Yale School of Drama, where he was a John Golden Fellow in playwriting and recipient of the Kazan Award and the Theron Rockwell Field Prize for distinguished achievement in literature. Terra Nova, Tally's first full-length drama, was written in 1977. Tally has also written Hooters (1978) and Coming Attractions (1980), which received the 1980 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best American Play. In addition to his plays, Tally has written several film and television scripts, most recently an adaptation of Hooters."
--R. Stephenson.

Publication information: Tally, Ted. Terra Nova; A play (New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc., c1981, 87pp, Wrappers. The play was earlier copyrighted under the title "Heart In The Ice."


Brenda Clough has kindly sent in her review of another production of Tally's play. See details on Barbara's science fiction treatment of Oates under 'Antarctic Book Notes' elsewhere on this site.

TERRA NOVA: the Race to the South Pole, by Ted Tally. Project Y Theatre Company and Washington Shakespeare Company. April 24 through May 19, 2001

This production of TERRA NOVA is being staged by a small start-up theater company out of a tiny warehouse theater in Crystal City, VA. The play is rarely produced in my area, so I was delighted to catch this run of it even though we got desperately lost finding the theater. The layout of the roads around National Airport and Crystal City would try the patience of a saint. And every time I pass that airport I dislike Ronald Reagan more. But I digress.

On the face of it the story of Scott's final expedition would make a dull stage show. Five famously stoical men bundled up in the same bulky clothes staggering across a blank white landscape for 150 days or so offers little opportunity for ham, scenery chewing, descending helicopters, or special effects involving magical costume changes or people dressed like candelabra. (When I told him what the show was about my husband exclaimed uneasily, "But they don't -sing-, do they?")

Furthermore, much of the pathos of the play comes from the viewer's knowledge of the actual events. You really sort of have to know who all these folks are in advance, and in the US the story is relatively obscure.

But all of these difficulties can be turned by a clever playwright into strengths. Certainly the audiences at Epidauros already knew what was going to happen to poor old Agamemnon, right? It was not like Sophocles or Aeschylus was adding twists in the plot to enthrall them. The play fast-forwards through many of the dull bits of slogging across glaciers by interposing flashbacks from Scott's life, and semi-delirious fantasy sequences. This allows Amundsen to be a major character in the play (the men never met in Antarctica). It also allows Kathleen Scott to appear, thus getting one actress into what would otherwise be an all-male cast. All the backstory is thus cleverly worked in at only a slight cost in tedium.

I did get the sense that associating with Kathleen Scott for any great length of time would become wearing to the nerves. And could Scott's mental difficulties have been so severe? It is set up so that the entire tragedy is his responsibility alone. It would have been interesting to get in a mention of the over-severe cold and the lousy nutrition and the leaking fuel tins.

The producers did not try to out-Herod Herod with effects. The polar landscape is represented by white sheeting, which also double as a projection screen for slides of the historical photographs. There was one styrofoam ice berg, which doubles as a vaulting horse and rostrum. The crevasses are imaginary, and the only sound effect is wind noises. It's pure theater! and brings home what is lost when directors resort to the gaudy SFX.

Some gearing up of the drama was inevitable (no stiff upper lips here), and I cannot believe that the men had enough energy after manhauling to the South Pole to sock each other in the jaw. But everything is squeezed in nice and tight, the assorted icky tragedies come to pass in fine style, and the play ends as it ought, with Scott's death. Knowing how it is going to end actually enhances the experience. Euripides would approve.


Pamela Davis and Kim Crosbie of Scott Polar Research Institute compiled and edited These Rough Notes, a re-telling of Scott's Last Expedition from journal entries and letters of those involved. Pamela Davis wrote a piece on their efforts which accompanies the text of the 'These Rough Notes' and appears in the November 1996 issue of The Cambridge Review. The introductory paragraphs appear below. Anyone wishing information about performing 'These Rough Notes' should contact Lucy Martin, Manager of the Picture Library, Scott Polar Research Institute (

"Their last hope was gone. Inside the tent, Scott composed his final thoughts, 'These rough notes', he wrote, 'and our dead bodies must tell the tale...'. Without his 'rough notes', which are anything but, the story of this heroic struggle for life would be lost. It is unfortunate that in recent years one critic has authored a different tale, and in doing so has left the public with an improverished view of those events.

'These Rough Notes' is a renewed telling of the Scott story driven by the need to redress this contemporary opprobrium. During a lecture at the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), I was struck by the evocative quality of Edward Wilson's watercolours, and, particularly, how closely they illustrated Scott's diary. I discovered that the Institute had no plans to commemorate the upcoming 80th anniversary of the deaths of Scott and his polar party, and set out to create such an event. Fellow-student Kim Crosbie and I compiled and edited the diaries of Scott, Bowers, Wilson, Cherry-Garrard and Kathleen Scott. Wilson's watercolours and Herbert Ponting's photographs were selected to illustrate the reading: the result was to 'hear and see' a first-hand account of the expedition, dating from 3 January 1912, the march to the Pole, through Scott's last diary entry on 29 March 1912.

The finished compilation was first performed in March 1992, and again as a fund-raising event in March 1996 for the newest extension at the SPRI - the Shackleton Memorial Library. The Institute was extremely fortunate to have a group of distinguished readers well versed in polar matters. From SPRI, Irene Burns as Kathleen Scott, Peter Speak as Apsley CherryGarrard, and Mathew Huddleston as Birdie Bowers; David Wilson read for his great-uncle Edward, and Sir Vivian Fuchs, leader of the successful TransAntarctic Expedition of 1955-8, read for Scott. During one of the rehearsals, Sir Vivian reminded us that these diaries contained personal thoughts, and that only now, some 80 years hence, was it appropriate to share them in such a public manner."