The Wider Earth, Natural History Museum

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by Laura Kressly

Newly-minted Cambridge graduate Charles Darwin wants to collect insects and rocks, but his father wants him to enter the clergy. When one of his lecturers recommends him for the positions of resident naturalist onboard Naval ship The Beagle, the 22-year-old jumps at the chance. Over the next five years he sails the world, collects specimens and constructs ideas that eventually become On the Origin of Species. He is also a part of an imperialist mission ridden with Christian colonial attitudes that, in this script, are disappointingly excused in favour of spectacular design.

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An Adventure, Bush Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

Jyoti crouches on the floor rearranging five photographs, frowning with much consternation. A man emerges from the storm outside, awkward and in an ill-fitting suit. Jyoti must decide if this is the man whose promises of an adventure in the one who will change her life forever, or if it is to be another. But chose she must, for it’s 1954 in India and her father needs the extra income that will come from marrying off his daughter.

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Translations, National Theatre

National Theatre

By Laura Kressly

Mud covers the Olivier stage. It’s dark, nearly black, thick and peaty. The ‘emerald’ part of the Emerald Isle is pointedly absent. The muck’s heavy and pervasive, working its way into every crevice of the rural hedge school where students of all ages learn Latin and Greek. They don’t mind the mud. But the British soldiers that come with their imposing colonisation, also working its way into nook and cranny? That’s where the villagers take issue.

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Boudica, Shakespeare’s Globe

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Some time in the past, there is an island of disparate peoples happily carrying on with their lives. Each group has its own rules, traditions and customs. Life is hard, but there is order and implicit ownership of lands that they have lived on for generations.

Then soldiers from a foreign nation that they’ve never heard of arrive. They kill many of the natives, rape some and enslave others. Agreements are made that the natives don’t really understand, and as time passes they become second-class people in a place that is no longer theirs.

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Odd Man Out, Hope Theatre

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A middle-aged, gay Welshman contemplates the English class he teaches in Hong Kong. Amongst the students is Windy, the Chinese woman with whom he shares his bed. Utterly smitten with her, he refers to her as his Pocahontas. He then kisses a barbie doll with long black hair and tanned skin.

Pocahontas was a Native American woman kidnapped by the colonising English in the 1600s, forced to marry, then taken to Britain. The same woman bore her husband a child then died, aged 21, after contracting a European illness.

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Guards at the Taj, Bush Theatre

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Humayun and Babur have known each other since they were boys. Now the newest of emperor Shah Jahan’s imperial guards in Agra, the best friends work side-by-side on the night shift. Today is different, though. The first light of dawn will reveal the completed Taj Mahal, previously hidden from anyone other than its makers. Fit to burst with excitement, the two don’t know that the day to come will irrevocably change them as they fall prey to the giant cogs of the imperial machine.

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