Lawrence Howard Armchair Adventurer

Launched in 2008, the Armchair Adventurer Series chronicles true, historical events with the energy and emotion of a personal narrative. From the deadly, frozen landscape of Antarctica to the merciless abyss of the sea, Armchair Adventurer journeys through the most heart-wrenching survival tales of all time. These are epic stories of great adventure, perseverance, and courage, created and told by Lawrence Howard.

PLEASE NOTE: All events, shows, gatherings, and workshops are postponed until further notice.

Nansen of the North

Read a preview by David Jasper of The Bulletin: Armchair Adventurer Returns to Bend

Read a review by Bob Hicks of Oregon Arts Watch: Fridtjof Nansen’s polar express

Since 2008, Portland Story Theater’s acclaimed Armchair Adventurer series has focused on the stories of series creator Lawrence Howard’s Antarctic heroes: Shackleton, Mawson, Amundsen and Scott. 2017 marked the first year that we turned our attention northward to bring you Nansen of the North, the story of Fridtjof Nansen, the father of polar travel, the one who showed them all how it could be done. Nansen, the great Norwegian ski champion. Nansen, a pioneer in neurobiology. Nansen, who made the first-ever crossing of Greenland on skis. Nansen, who set a new record for the Farthest North. Statesman. Diplomat. Humanitarian. One of the founders of the League of Nations. The First United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Nobel Prize winner. Nansen, who famously said, “It is better to go skiing and to think about God than it is to go to church and think about skiing.” Nansen of Norway. Nansen of the North. A captivating performer, Howard holds audiences spellbound and has been called “the Homer of Portland” and “the master of nonfiction on the stage.” This show premiered as part of Portland’s City-Wide Fertile Ground Festival in 2017.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare

Broadway World: Lawrence Howard at United Solo
Willamette Week, Katie Todd: Just Opened – Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare

The story that launched the Armchair Adventure Series, Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare returned in 2019. Portland Story Theater launched a collaboration with Michael Hill of Wetdog Studios to create an immersive visual experience to compliment Lawrence Howard’s epic storytelling. The program also has a musical soundscape that was created on the cello by Laurent Nickel.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare is the gripping, heart-breaking, true story of British explorer, Ernest Shackleton, and the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914. Shackleton’s dream of being the first to cross the Antarctic continent on foot became a nightmare when his valiant ship, The Endurance, was crushed in the pack-ice of the Weddell Sea. The story of how he and the twenty-seven men of the expedition survived on the ice and eventually came to safety is an epic tale of hardship and suffering, of courage, determination and fortitude.

This show was part of Portland’s City-Wide Fertile Ground Festival in 2019.

Polar Opposites

David Jasper of The Bulletin: Q&A with storyteller Lawrence Howard ‘Armchair Adventurer’ returns armed with new tale

Bob Hicks of Oregon ArtsWatch: Peril on ice: an Antarctic tragedy
Dennis Sparks: Polar opposites: An Impossible Dream
Krista Garver of Broadway World: Feel the Thrill of Antarctic Exploration in Portland Story Theater’s POLAR OPPOSITES

Inspired by our recent visit to Norway where Amundsen’s ship, the Fram, is housed, Portland Story Theater is excited to announce that in 2018, Lawrence Howard will retell the amazing story, Polar Opposites | Amundsen, Scott, and the Race for the Pole. Third in the Armchair Adventurer series, Howard first told this story in 2011 on the 100 year anniversary.

Polar Opposites recounts heroic and tragic events in Antarctica one hundred years ago. Scott and his four companions fought their way to the Pole only to find the Norwegian flag flying there: Amundsen had beaten him by five weeks. Crushed by disappointment, utterly exhausted and short on food and fuel, Scott and his companions froze and starved to death on the return journey, just eleven miles from a huge cache of provisions and supplies. This a tale of the agony and the ecstasy, of accomplishment and failure, of a glorious victory overshadowed by an even more glorious defeat.

Shackleton, The Untold Story

Read a preview by David Jasper of the Bend Bulletin

Read a review by Bob Hicks of Oregon ArtsWatch

Thanks to Solo Speak, in April, 2016, Lawrence Howard returned to the Cascades Theatrical Company in Bend, Oregon to tell a new story about Ernest Shackleton and the 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition. This show premiered at Fertile Ground, Portland’s City-Wide Theater Festival. Going back to the roots of the Armchair Adventurer series, for the first time ever Howard will tell the harrowing story of the Ross Sea Party — those valiant men on the other side of the continent who gave everything they had to lay down the caches of food and fuel along the route — caches that, as it turned out, Shackleton never used. This is a story that speaks to something very deep within the human psyche. It’s a story of the indomitable power of the human spirit.

Mawson’s Mettle | Alone on the Wide Shores of the World

Mawson’s Mettle is another true, epic tale of Antarctic adventure written and told by Lawrence Howard. Part of Portland’s annual Fertile Ground Festival, this world-premiere is about Douglas Mawson, a veteran of one of Shackleton’s earlier voyages, who led an Australian expedition to the frozen continent in 1911.

The Essex | Survival at Sea

The Essex is the true story of a Nantucket whaling ship that was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 1820, leaving 20 men in three small boats with very little food or water. Reaching the coast of South America 93 days later, only eight sailors survived the ordeal of thirst, starvation and despair. This is the true story that became the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Meticulously researched and historically accurate, The Essex is the fifth installment in Portland Story Theater’s acclaimed Armchair Adventurer series, created and performed by Lawrence Howard and directed by Lynne Duddy.

John “Babbacombe” Lee | The Man They Could Not Hang

John “Babbacombe” Lee is a departure from Artartica. The time is November, 1884 in the sleepy village of Babbacombe, on the Devonshire coast of England. An elderly spinster is brutally murdered and her body set on fire. Suspicion falls upon her manservant, John Lee. A three-ring circus of a trial ensues. Lee is convicted on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to be hanged, but on the day of the execution the trap doors of the gallows fail to open not once, not twice, but three times. Was it mechanical failure or divine intervention? Was Lee really innocent, as he claimed? And if he didn’t do it, who did??