Darwin Remembers

Recollections of a Life's Journey

The following is the play program for the play "Darwin Remembers", written by Floyd Sandford. With the assistance of a grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the play was performed, at five different venues in Eastern Iowa from March to September 2000. In the productions the role of Charles Darwin was acted by Mr. Sandford. The play, a living history reenactment for one actor, included a 6-minute recreation of the historic debate at Oxford in June 1860 between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and the biologist Thomas Huxley, with the actor portraying both roles. The first production, in two acts and lasting two hours, was at the Dows Fine Arts Theatre on the campus of Coe College on the evening of April 20, 2000, and was supported by a grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In 2006 the play was shortened. It is now performed in one act with no intermission and lasts 70-75 minutes. To date, performances have been given at colleges, universities, natural history museums, churches, and humanist societies throughout the United States [see listing]. A recent performance, taped in 2009, was produced by Case Western Reserve University and is on YouTube. A more recent performance at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma in January 2010 was also taped, and a short segment can be viewed by clicking here.
For a one minute video - click on this image: Darwin Video

The play “Darwin Remembers: Recollections of a Life’s Voyage” is my personal tribute to Charles Darwin, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived and, in addition, a fine and decent human being. Many people today are befuddled about Darwin and his work. These critics of Darwin and the idea of evolutionary change in the biological world are either ignorant of the facts or science or feel threatened by the facts of science, and specifically the facts of biological science. These are typically people of weak faith who have little understanding of the scientific method and who are confused about the difference between scientific facts and systems of religious belief, between the realm of the natural world and the realm of the supernatural. Not only are they confused, but they want to perpetuate the confusion on to the next generation by attempting to get their religious beliefs and creationist views into science textbooks as an alternative one of the major paradigms of modern biology.

Biological evolution is a fact! What Darwin did was propose a theory, the theory of natural selection, to explain the fact of evolution. This theory, based on a massive amount of non-contradictory evidence from many different areas (e.g. embryology, anatomy, genetics, biogeography, fossils etc.) has stood the test of time. The fact of biological evolution and the non-fixity of species as explained by the theory of natural selection is not something you believe it, like whether there are angels or life after death. The enterprise of scientific inquiry, undertaken by an empirical approach, is a way of making sense of the workings of the natural and material world. It is not a belief system. One either knows and understands the facts of evolutionary biology or one doesn’t; and the facts of science say absolutely nothing about the existence or non-existence of some omnipotent deity in the cosmos.

It is my hope that the play “Darwin Remembers” will shed more light and less heat on the character of Darwin and the significance of his great body of scientific work.


Arranging for a performance of the play

Booking a performance: The author/actor, is interested in bringing a production of "Darwin Remembers" to interested audiences. Fees are modest & negotiable, according to circumstances. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Mr. Sandford for more information or details.

The play program for the premiere performance at Coe College in April 2000 follows:

Darwin Remembers - By Floyd Sandford

Charles Darwin ................................................................ Floyd Sandford

Synopsis of Scene

The study of Charles Darwin at Down House near the small village of Downe in Kent, England, 16 miles South of London in the late morning of a day in October 1881

Acknowledgements The author/actor is greatly appreciative of all the persons who assisted in this production.

Program Notes

In addition to the comments following, a separate page of program notes with information about the life and work of Charles Darwin is available for persons interested in knowing more. The information presented in this play is factual. Much of the information was derived from Darwin's autobiography, edited and published shortly after his death by his son Francis. In the play, Darwin "remembers" his life, including the historic confrontation at Oxford in 1860, between Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford and the biologist Thomas H. Huxley, Darwin's most loyal and vociferous defender in public forum and debates. Darwin himself was not at the meeting. Much has been written about this meeting, but no verbatim transcript exists of the actual dialogue that occurred between Wilberforce and Huxley. The actual exchange between the two men lasted about an hour, much longer than the brief 6 minute exchange in the play. A recollection by Huxley written years later, which also includes personal narratives of several other persons who were at the meeting, is the nearest and most complete accounting of the events that occurred. Huxley's memoirs give a good accounting of his actual statements but unfortunately the actual and vital words spoken by Wilberforce are lost to time. The factually-based dialogue in the flashback, spoken mainly by Huxley, is taken from information available in Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, Vol. 1, edited by his son Leonard Huxley, and published in 1900.

Floyd Sandford

The Scientific Books and Monographs of Charles Darwin


Journal of Researches into the Natural History etc .... (The Voyage of the Beagle)

1842 The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs
1844 Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands
1846 Geological Observations on South America
1851 A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia
1851 A Monograph of the Fossil Pedunculated Cirripeds of Great Britain
1854 A Monograph of the Sessile Cirripeds
1854 A Monograph of the Fossil Sessile Cirripeds
1859 On the Origin of Species
1862 On the Var. Contrivances by which British & Foreign Orchids are Fertilized by Insects
1868 The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication
1871 The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex
1872 The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
1875 Insectivorous Plants
1875 The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants
1876 The Effects of Cross- and Self-Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom
1877 The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species
1880 The Power of Movement in Plants
1881 The Formation of Vegetable Mold through the Action of Worms

In addition, Darwin wrote his own autobiography and in 1879 The Life of Erasmus Darwin as a tribute to his famous paternal grandfather.


Performances of the play "Darwin Remembers"

March 2, 2000 Coe College Thursday Forum
1. April 19 & 20, 2000 Dows Theatre, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA, First two public performances.
2. July 1, 2000 Granger House, Marion, IA
3. Sept. 22, 2000 University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, Genetics PhD Program Fall Retreat
4. October 12, 2000 Kirkwood Community College, Iowa City, IA
5. March 30, 2001 Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA, Midwest Political Science Students Convention
6. April 21, 2001 Annual Meeting of the Iowa Academy of Science, Hotel Fort Des Moines, Des Moines, IA
7. June 25, 2001 Lakes Art Center, Okoboji, IA
8. October 1, 2001 Simpson College, Indianola, IA
9. October 17, 2001 Peru State College, Peru, NE
10. October 22, 2001 University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
11. October 25, 2001 Mt. Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, IA
12. November 27, 2001 Ripon College, Ripon, WI
13. February 11, 2005 Cleveland Natural History Museum, OH
[Museum Explorer of the Month]
14. January 24, 2006 Washington High School, Cedar Rapids, IA
15. April 1, 2006 Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA
16. January 28, 2009 Indiana University at South Bend, IN
17. Feb. 8, 2009 Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, CA
18. Feb. 14, 2009 Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Strosacker Center Auditorium, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
19. March 1, 2009 Ethical Humanists of Chicago, located in Skokie, IL
20. March 29, 2009 Trinity Church, Boston, MA. [program in the Price Lecture Series]
21. April 7, 2009 Kirkwood Community College [Mel Oliven Memorial Lecture Series.
22. May 29, 2009 Secular Humanist of Iowa City, IA
23. June 11, 2009 Annual Assembly of the American Ethical Union (AEU) St. Louis, MO.
24. June 28, 2009 American Society of Mammalogists Annual Meeting, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska
25. Oct. 20, 2009 University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX
26. Jan. 22, 2010 University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
27. Feb. 16, 2010 Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Il.
28. March 25, 2010 Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA
29. February 15, 2014 Santa Barbara Humanists, Santa Barbara, CA

Upcoming Performances

March 5, 2015 Iowa City Humanists, Iowa City, IA
  Unitarian Universalist Society, 10 S. Gilbert St. - 7 PM

Audience comments Performance at Coe College
Thursday Forum, March

"Best historical performance I have ever seen"
"The character of Darwin came alive" "a masterful job of writing and acting"
"A great introduction to Darwin. The actor was fantastic"
"A first-rate script and an excellent performance"
"I enjoyed and learned from the production. An excellent performance" - Dr. Jean Sweat
"An outstandingly conceived and delivered performance"- John Stuhr


Performance at Univ. of Iowa, Sept. 2000

"A tremendous production" "afterwards I went home and had a long discussion about Darwin and his remarkable career with my family" -
Dr. Henry Paulson

Performance at Iowa Academy of Science, April 21, 2001

"Outstanding performance" "many in the audience felt in the presence of Darwin" - Dr. David McCalley, Executive Director of the Academy
"The production of Darwin Remembers was outstanding" -
Dr. Wayne Anderson

Audience comments from the performances in February 2009 in
Santa Barbara, CA and Cleveland, OH

" My sister and I enjoyed the performance immensely" B. van R, North Ridgeville, OH

"Kudos for a flawless performance and for bringing a legendary man of science to life" R. H. Cleveland, OH

"I loved it! It was gripping as well as being informative and entertaining.... I was convinced it was Darwin up there." Santa Barbara, CA

"The performance was full of interesting details that made Darwin come to life .... It was very entertaining while being educational. Thanks for all you taught us." Santa Barbara, CA

The performance February 8, 2009 at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, jointly sponsored by the museum
and the Santa Barbara Humanist Society.

Audience comment from the performances in Skokie IL, March 2009

"In a convincing and engrossing portrayal Mr. Sandford quietly began recalling the major events and ideas of Charles Darwin's life -- as though he were Darwin himself".

Matt Cole, President EHS of Chicago


Audience comment from the performance at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA, April 2009

"Dr. Sandford does fantastic work depicting Charles Darwin. I felt I was actually with Darwin during the play. Not just a casual observer. A truly captivating performance".

Gary Donnermeyer, Associate Professor Biology


Performance at UTPB, Odessa, Texas. October 20, 2009, as reviewed by Graham Dixon, PhD, published in the October 29 issue of MyWestTexasPulse

"In his remarkable 75 minute , one man show "Darwin Remembers," retired professor Floyd Sandford took a UTPB audience on a journey of discovery...Floyd Sandford is a remarkable actor who held the stage on his own for more than a hour, something many professionals would be nervous at attempting."


Darwin visits the Boston Museum of Science, Boston, MA, October, 2009