Presented by Discovery Theater and the National Museum of Natural History
Written by Tess Duncan, intern at The Smithsonian Associates; 06/13
Videos by Jamal Toye, intern at The Smithsonian Associates
The Smithsonian Institution houses millions of exhibits and puts on countless programs. Each becomes a portal to a different world- old, new, and worlds yet to be discovered. Today, I was transported back to 1906 onto a vessel called the Albatross as it journeyed around the North Pacific Ocean. The tale was told in live theater by an actor, Josh Sticklin, playing Austin Clark, a scientist with the Smithsonian and passenger on the Albatross.
The dynamic tale had it all: “A calamitous earthquake…a young bride left behind…a voyage to faraway shores…unknown creatures of the deep…robbery and tragic death…a pet goat.” The compelling short play was interactive and inspirational, fit for all ages. The video and the musical score that accompanied Sticklin were by award-winners Matt Nielson and Jared Mezzocchi. Through true experiential learning, the audience was awed and inspired by the fact that 71% of our planet is covered by ocean, yet 95% of what it holds remains a mystery to us.
To uncover some of the mysteries, Ocean Educator Dr. Dave Pawson, [pictured above] was invited down to tell the audience more about the impact of Austin Clark and his findings. Clark discovered 600 species throughout his journey on the Albatross, and one hundred years later his specimens still fill the Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History [some specimens collected by Clark are pictured below].
Pictured above: Sea Lily and Dwarf Lantern Shark
Pictured above: Giant Isopod & Monk and Angler Fish
Clark received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, but found after graduation he was made for adventure, not graduate school. Originally a “bird man,” his expedition on the Albatross introduced Clark to the creatures of the deep. The Albatross would pull a weighted net along the ocean floor, pulling up haul after haul of new species of aquatic life. Clark recorded these specimens through sketches in his field journal and preserved others for future study. Upon his return to the United States, he took his specimens and research to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. He spent the rest of his life there, living next to the captain of the Albatross and working at the Smithsonian, but he never again went on an oceanic voyage.
Discovery Theater is the Smithsonian’s theatre for young audiences. They put on the Albatross Expedition production in honor of World Oceans Week. Discovery Theater marries live performance with the rich diversity of Smithsonian exhibitions, quite literally making the museum come alive. Discovery Theater will put on Native Pride Dancers, Diggity Dudes, Human Beatbox, and POP-UP Science in the following month. Tickets are going fast and several days of Human Beatbox and POP-UP Science have SOLD OUT. More details about Discovery Theater can be found on their website or by liking their Facebook Page.