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Survival at Sea: The Essex
with Lawrence Howard, Armchair Adventurer

The Essex, Created and Told by Lawrence Howard In 1820, an enraged sperm whale rammed and sank the whaleship Essex, leaving twenty men in three small boats at the mercy of an unforgiving ocean, without much in the way of food, fresh water, or hope of survival. After months at sea, only five were rescued near the coast of South America, three thousand miles away. This January, experience the harrowing, true tale that inspired Herman Melville to write the literary classic Moby Dick. Lawrence Howard's The Essex runs 120 minutes (with intermission) and will be performed January 23rd and 24th at the Alberta Abbey as part of Fertile Ground's world premiere projects.

Told by master storyteller Lawrence Howard, The Essex brings the unbelievable but true events behind the legendary whale encounter to life. Set sail with the crew as they leave Nantucket harbor and the over-fished local waters for the promise of the South Pacific and its abundant whales. Experience the terror and disbelief of the crew as their ship faces off with a giant sperm whale and is ultimately torn to shreds. Witness the stranded men as they make the fateful decision to turn away from nearby Tahiti, where they fear being cannibalized by the natives, and instead set sail fighting against the wind in hopes of reaching faraway South America. Hear the tragic events unfold as the men find themselves in an ordeal of thirst, starvation and despair.

The Essex, Created and Told by Lawrence Howard The Essex is the fifth installment of Portland Story Theater's highly successful Armchair Adventurer series, which transports audiences into the scenes of history's greatest adventure and survival stories. Begun in 2008 with the highly acclaimed Shackleton's Antarctic Nightmare, the series has gone on to explore the Antarctic journeys of Douglas Mawson, Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, as well as recounting the infamous and mysterious 1885 murder trial of John "Babbacombe" Lee," the man who could not be hanged.

Howard has been hailed by The Oregonian as "the local leader in the resurgence of this ageless performance form - a single person spinning a yarn, holding a roomful of listeners rapt."

With The Essex, Howard tackles the second of the two life-long interests he inherited from his father - the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and the romance of wooden-ship whaling. Howard recounts his early interest in the subject, "My dad would often take me to the whaling museum at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, not far from where I grew up. By the age of eleven or twelve, while the other kids were out playing, I was creating elaborate cutaway-view drawings of whaling ships." Inspired by a close friend, he turned his attention to the story of The Essex in the summer of 2013. Carefully researched and enthusiastically performed, Howard maintains that The Essex "…is not history lesson, but a gripping story."

The Essex will be performed January 23rd and 24th at the Alberta Abbey. Tickets are $15.00 in advance, available for purchase at www.portlandstorytheater.com. Festival Passes are available through boxofficetickets.com. Doors open at 7 pm and tickets are $18.00 at the door. Admission always includes a complimentary appetizer buffet. Beer and wine are available for purchase when the doors open.

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Portland Story Theater is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to making the narrative arts an integral part of Portland's rich cultural identity and is committed to bringing an authentic story and theater experience to inspire, challenge and expand a sense of community in Portland's urban environment.

Core Creative Team

There are all kinds of master craftsmen in the world, Lawrence Howard is a master at crafting stories. Howard is a Founder of Portland Story theater and is best known for his Armchair Adventurer series, in particular Shackleton's Antarctic Nightmare. www.lawrencehoward.name/

Founder, Lynne Duddy is the Executive Creative Director of Portland Story Theater. Duddy also performs as a solo artist (Dark Matter, White Girl, Twice Born) and her performance art has been described by The Oregonian as "raw, revealing, and vulnerable." www.lynneduddy.com/

Best known for her puppet artistry, Penny Walter is a primary creative contributor to Portland Story Theater productions. Walter regularly performs at Mainstage events, including Kiss & Tell (Valentine's), Spellbound (Halloween), and in 2015 their new St. Paddy's show, Kiss Me, I'm Irish. www.pennypuppets.com/

For all media inquiries, please contact Portland Story Theater at 503-284-2226 or by email at tellers@portlandstorytheater.com.

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