Farewell Dinner for the Nimrod Crew
My new play recreates the meal, toasts, speeches and songs from the Canterbury Club's celebration of Shackleton and his crew on the eve of their Antarctic adventure.
The Nimrod Expedition of 1907–1909, otherwise known as the British Antarctic Expedition, was the first of three successful expeditions to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton.
Although the expedition's profile was initially much lower than that of Scott's six years earlier, its achievements attracted widespread interest and made Shackleton a national hero. The scientific team, which included the future Australasian Antarctic Expedition leader Douglas Mawson, carried out extensive geological, zoological and meteorological work. Shackleton's transport arrangements, based on Manchurian ponies, motor traction, and sled dogs, were innovations which, despite limited success, were later copied by Scott for his ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition.
Before they left for Antarctica, on the 30th December 1907, the Canterbury Club of Christchurch hosted a farewell dinner for Shackleton and his crew. I propose to restage it.
The Story of the Story
I found the menu from the evening.
And a full report of the event - and a guest list1 - from the Christchurch Press.
A head chef and team recreate and serve the 9-course degustation menu. There are 54 table placings available per performance. Each placing bears the name of one of the guests from 1907. An envelope contains a brief précis of who the individual was, what became of them, and what role they played that evening. The envelope will contain everything the diner needs to discharge their duties (if any) during the evening.
The only professional performer in attendance will be a pianist.
Schedule of Events
First Course. Canapes d’crevettes
Served from platters as guests arrive and are seated to incidental music of the era.
Second Course. Consommé Desclignac Pureé de Volaille a la Reine
A savoury custard square immersed in a clear poultry soup.
Mr. J.J Kinsey - the host of the evening - proposes a toast to the King.
The group sings “God Save the King.”
Letters and telegrams are read aloud by guests conveying good wishes, including the Prime Minister’s letter.
Third Course: Truite bouillie with Sauce Ravigotte
Trout in a sauce made of chervil, chives, tarragon & shallots.
Mr Hosking, K.C. proposes the health of Lieutenant Shackleton.
Lt Shackleton responds.
The group sings “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”
Fourth Course. Écrevisse à l’Orientale
Crayfish à l’Orientale
The Hon C.C. Bowen, M.L.C proposes the health of Capt. England and the officers of the Nimrod.
Captain England responds.
Fifth Course. D’Agneau/ La Dinde
Choice of Saddle of Lamb with Mint sauce, or Braised Turkey with Chipolatas.
Mr. W. H. Triggs proposes the health of the scientific staff.
Mr James Murray, the biologist of the expedition, responds.
Sixth Course. Faison rôti Sauce au pain, Salade et Pommes Pailles
Roast fillet with bread sauce, salad and ‘potato straws’ (chips!)
Hon H. F. Wigram, M.L C proposes the health of Prof. David F.R.S. - the geologist of the expedition.
Prof. David responds.
Seventh Course. Pouding Anglais, Pâtes de Fruits / Charlotte de Bananes Gelée au Macédoine
English pudding with fruit jellies or ‘Banana Charlotte’ topped with jelly.
Lt. Shackleton proposes a toast to “the governments of the Dominion and the Commonwealth, and their people.”
Mr. Laurenson, MP responds on behalf of the Dominion.
Prof. David - a Welsh Australian - responds on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Eighth Course. Glaces à la Nimrod
Nimrod Ice Cream
Mr. Buckingham proposes a toast of “The Ladies” - the wives and sweethearts of the Nimrod crew, who will be separated for an indeterminable length of time from their beloved.
Sir Philip Brocklehurst responds.
9th Course. Cigarettes de Fromage ‘Cigarettes’ of Cheese
Mr W Reece proposes a toast to The Press - the most important Christchurch newspaper.
Hon H. F. Wigram & Mr. W. H Triggs - editor of The Press - respond.
Group Song: “Auld Lang Syne”
Mr. Jones proposes the health of the host.
Mr J J Kinsey responds.
Incidental music of the era as guests mingle, then depart.