Coming this April to Lyme Regis Fossil Festival…
It’s 1853, New Year’s Eve in Crystal Palace, and a group of leading professors and palaeontologists are holding a sumptuous banquet in an unusual venue; inside the concrete mould of an Iguanodon. The guests; famous dinosaur hunters and pioneering geologists, William Buckland, Gideon Mantell, Mary Anning and Richard Owen, vie with one another, laying claim to their amazing finds. Discovered across southern England from Lyme Regis to Kent since 1812, dinosaurs are Very Hot News, patronised by the rich, and the subject of lengthy academic discussion. During their banquet of mock turtle soup, woodcock pie and ammonite blancmange, the professors evoke the terrifying monsters their fossils once were. Deep into the night, they debate questions around natural evolution and the bible’s version of the world… How come these creatures no longer exist? How old is the world? What is the stone beneath our feet telling us about our place in the world? Pigs will fly out of pies, and blancmange will explode in the Iguanodon Restaurant!
The show tells the tale of the birth of geology, and travels at rollicking speed from Lyme Regis in 1812 when Mary Anning discovered her first ichthyosaur, to Cuckfield in Sussex, then Maidstone, where important iguanodon discoveries were made by Gideon Mantell in 1822 and 1834. We finally arrive at Crystal Palace on New Years Eve 1853, where our characters are found dining inside a concrete iguanodon, unusual looking because ‘Iggy’ is based upon the fossil evidence so far uncovered. Built in 1850-54, the Crystal Palace dinosaur sculptures still stand today and are the first depiction of life-size dinosaurs for the general public.
Emerald Ant has worked closely with palaeontologists, geologists and historians from our partner organisation, the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and the Jurassic Coast Team. Key themes of the show include how scientists use fossils to learn about the prehistoric world, how fossil interpretation has progressed since Victorian times, and the rise of evolutionary theory and the birth of geology. Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ was published 6 years after the iguanodon banquet. We will tell the story behind these famous dinosaurs and raise awareness of their need for restoration.
The Iguanodon Restaurant is supported by the Arts Council of England, The Palaeontological Association (PalAss), Jurassic Coast Trust, Curry Fund, UK Onshore Geophysical Library and The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation. Thanks to everyone for their support.
Scaled Iggy model by Sarah Butterworth and Mike Pattison
The Tour – Following 4 years’ success with Horace the Travelling Pliosaur Cinema, Emerald Ant will deliver a fun, interactive show for family audiences at festivals and events around the country. We will première at Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in May 2016 and tour Iggy the following 3 years, to science events, family events, history and music festivals. Audience members will be invited to ‘beard up’ and join us at the banqueting table to discuss the discoveries that broke long-held beliefs in Victorian England and shook the world.
Arts-science Programme for Schools We will be running an intensive programme for schools in 2016 -18, on the Jurassic Coast, the Sussex and Kent Weald (where iguanodon were found), and in the Crystal Palace area of London. We’ll be working with the Jurassic Coast Team to support schools to teach geology creatively, and to use the Jurassic Coast as a learning resource. At each school we’ll stay for 2 days, performing the show, running creative discussions around important themes, and providing an arts-science fossil workshop, identifying and interpreting local fossils and re-creating the animals they once were. In doing this, we’ll be supporting the development of Jurassica on Portland, the work of the Jurassic Coast Team, and Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. We’ve already got 8 schools on board. If you work at a school and are interested, please get in touch, details below…
The Iguanodon, as it was understood in 1859, by Samuel Griswold Goodrich
The real ‘Iguanodon Banquet’ of 1853, as seen in the Illustrated London News, 7 Jan 1854
And Iggy as he stands today in Crystal Palace…
The Iguanodon Restaurant may also be used at Food Festivals for dining and we are interested in hearing from anyone involved in pop up restaurants and related events.
Please contact Sarah Butterworth, Creative Director, on email@example.com or 07811 950033 for more information. Emerald Ant is a Community Interest Company dedicated to engaging communities in their local history and heritage through exciting art and giant spectacle. Community Interest Company 9608594.
Many thanks to our partners and supporters: