Award-Winning Play Explores Darwin’s Humanity

When thinking of naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin, his theories of evolution and natural selection immediately come to mind. While best known for his work published in 1859, most are not familiar with Darwin as a husband, father, friend, and grandson of an abolitionist.

APU’s Center for Research in Ethics and Values (CREV) hosts playwright Murray Watts’ acclaimed one-man production Mr. Darwin’s Tree on Thursday, April 28 in the Black Box Theater. The free performance has limited seating, so attendees should arrive early. Funding for the production comes from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), the Templeton Religion Trust, and Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford. Azusa Pacific University marks the last stop on the play’s spring tour, which included six West Coast Christian universities.

Mr. Darwin’s Tree, a 75-minute production, demonstrates the impact of Darwin’s discoveries on his faith and his marriage. By presenting Darwin and his wife, Emma, as real human beings, the play challenges the false caricature created by both his objectors and supporters throughout the years. “Mr. Darwin’s Tree has no ideological agenda,” said Mark Eaton, Ph.D., professor in the Department of English and the Honors College, and director of CREV. “The play is based in history—letters, journals, and other reports that help the audience see Darwin in a new light.”

British actor Andrew Harrison, who takes on the role of Darwin, has appeared in many productions including Dorian Gray, Miss Maple, and Beyond Narnia. Watts has written for movies, plays, and television productions. His credits include screenwriting for KJB: A Book that Changed the World, The Miracle Maker, and The Dream.

Prior to the showing of Mr. Darwin’s Tree, Edward J. Larson, Hugh and Hazel Darling chair in law, professor in the School of Law at Pepperdine University, and Pulitzer Prize winner, will give a lecture entitled “Darwin and the Victorian Soul” on April 21. The lecture describes the development of Darwin’s ideas throughout the course of his life. Mr. Darwin’s Tree and Larson’s lecture seek to provide the audience with a better understanding of Darwin as a human being. For more information, call CREV at (626) 815-2075.