Whether it’s research for a novel, a play or inspiration for a painting, artists of all types have always traveled the world for both knowledge and inspiration. Because of their exploration, windows to the world were opened to the masses long before world travel became common. The information exchanged exposed cultural, racial and sexual differences, opening the eyes of both the explorer and the explored.
The artist, whether on site in new surroundings or after returning home, will inevitably use their artistic license, which may create a slightly skewed interpretation in their work. The observer or patron becomes a part of this exploration process and may be entertained or offended but always educated. In the arts, whether on stage or before a canvas, the only realities are the ones we ourselves invent, and possibilities grow as large as our imaginations allow.
The best exploration by an artist will transform an observer to an explorer. Jack London’s Call of the Wild whisks the reader to the Yukon. Stephenson’s Treasure Island lets you be a part of a pirate crew. Gauguin’s exotic Polynesian paintings transport the observer directly to Tahiti. Your imagination is key to appreciating all of this exploration.
All of the cultural, racial and sexual differences possible to imagine are present in The Explorers Club written by award winning playwright and lyricist, Nell Benjamin. Set in 1879 London, the prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: their acting president wants to admit a woman, and their bartender is terrible. True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire. Grab your safety goggles and hard hat for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen, monks and the occasional airship.