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Terra Nova

TerraNova.jpg"Terra Nova" by Ted Tally, is a true story drawn from the journals and letters found on the frozen body of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his famous fatal expedition to the south pole. The play captures the dramatic, chilling, intense, and the awesome bravery of men who accepted the bitter knowledge that suffering and death would be the only reward for heroism.  

Director’s NotesTerraNova2.jpgTerraNova3.jpg

“Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale. It seems a pity, but I cannot write more. For God’s sake look after our people.”
 - Captain Robert Falcon Scott

In the winter of 1911-12, five Englishmen and five Norwegians raced each other to the bottom of the Earth. Only the Norwegians returned. Terra Nova by Ted Tally is the story of Captain Scott's fateful expedition to the South Pole. Mr. Tally uses this memory play to share with an audience the perils of not only the severe cold and blizzards of the Antarctic, but also the complications of the altitude, starvation and the multiple difficulties hyperthermia presents to the human body. Tally also brings Roald Amundsen, the leader of the Norwegian team, to play the role of Captain Scott’s conscience, articulating Scott’s internal doubts, making Amundsen the brutal realist to Scott’s heroic idealists. These 5 men’s heroism exhibits an awesome bravery, a strong British pride, a sense of destiny and command, and the bitter knowledge that suffering and death will be the only reward. As each member of the team dies, the play climbs the dramatic apogee, capturing Scott’s chilling intensity in a psychologically flawed, withdrawn man unable to connect to the world, however obsessively ambitious.

In a place where no human is native, and a time when the world was shifting from the 19th century to the 20th century, the world observed Scott and his men bravely retain their humanity. For it was not the success of the journey that gives meaning to their lives and deaths but the scientific exploration. Among what search teams discovered among the bodies, one year later, was 35lbs of fossil rich rocks and multiple research and discovery journals filled with documentation and analytical information making Scott and his men some of the most famous of all polar explorers.

Directing this play and working with the design team has brought me to tears of pride on multiple occasions. I have been struck by the immense respect each person brought to the table and a deep desire to create a cohesive and collaborative story. I found myself continually reading quotes about the expedition and lines from the script, encouraging me to develop a respect for all things; military, environmental, historical, and most importantly, human life. As my last thought I offer to you; J.B. Priestly The Edwardian:

“...What they cherish, even though most of them would immediately deny it, is any action, though it may be accounted a failure that appears when it is recorded to be epic that takes on a poetic quality that haunts the mind like a myth. The long silence, the sudden tragic news, the idea of Scott and his companions doomed in that remote howling wilderness of snow and ice, all of it fired the imagination, and not only then, in 1913, but ever since.”

- Octavia Biggs, Director