From the heroes of Celtic myth to the wise men and fools of Yiddish folklore,
Lawrence knows how to take listeners on a journey through the rich landscape
of story. One of the original founders of Portland Story Theater
, he delivers
stories that resonate with adult audiences. Lawrence draws from his rich
repertoire of adventure, personal, and mythic tales to create narrative programs
for people from all walks of life. He is best known as the creator of the Armchair Adventurer series.
Bob Hicks of Oregon Arts Watch
talks about Shackleton's Antarctic Nightmare, "Three hours? You’re not supposed to be able to get away with that sort of thing.
The contemporary solo show is a cut-to-the-bone thing – usually 90 minutes max, designed to wrap up before the audience’s
patience runs out and the performer keels over in a dead faint.
Yet even with less than luxurious seating, three hours with Shackleton and Howard was just fine, thank you very much.
The evidence was clear: put together a good story and a good storyteller in a congenial atmosphere, and you can create
compelling theater all night long. As one enthusiastic onlooker exclaimed while heading for the door sometime after 11 p.m.,
'That coulda been longer!'"
The 2009 telling is available on audio CD.
The Oregonian's review
of Shackleton's Antarctic
recognizes Lawrence's true intention "Howard celebrates the brave perseverance of the British explorer" and
the tone, "...nothing pretentious about this presentation" because "Howard's easy communication style keeps us entranced from start to finish."
The second installment of the Armchair Adventurer series, the little-known story of Douglas
Mawson and the Australian Antarctic Expedition of 1911, was met with standing ovations and SRO audiences.
Mawson's Mettle: Alone
On The Wide Shores Of The World
premiered January 22, 2010, as
part of Portland's Fertile Ground Festival. Mawson's Mettle
was met with rave reviews.
appreciates Lawrence's true gift as a storyteller,
"...he engaged the audience with his passion for the subject, never cutting off eye contact with his rapt listeners."
2011 brought Polar Opposites: Amundsen, Scott, and the Race For The Pole
, which recounts heroic
and tragic events in Antarctica one hundred years ago, as Amundsen and Scott vied for the glory of reaching the pole first.
Lawrence painstakingly researched and developed this tale of the agony and the ecstasy, of accomplishment and failure, of a glorious
victory overshadowed by an even more glorious defeat. Bringing this story back in 2018, Howard gives tribute to Amundsen, a
heroic explorer, a competent technologist who was the first man to make it to the South Pole.
In 2013, the series took a sharp detour with the story of John "Babbacombe" Lee, The Man They Could Not Hang
, which has nothing to do with Antarctica!
The time is November, 1884. The place is the sleepy village of Babbacombe, near Torquay, 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?
, which premiered as part of the Fertile Ground festival in 2014, Howard tackles the second of the two life-long interests he inherited from his
father - the heroic age of Antarctic exploration and the romance of wooden-ship whaling. Howard recounts his early interest
in the subject, "My dad would often take me to the whaling museum at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, not far from where I grew up.
By the age of eleven or twelve, while the other kids were out playing, I was creating elaborate cutaway-view drawings of
whaling ships." Inspired by a close friend, he turned his attention to the story of The Essex
in the summer of 2013.
Carefully researched and enthusiastically performed, Howard maintains that The Essex "…is not history lesson, but a gripping story."
Bringing the series full circle in 2016, Howard reveals another piece of the Shackleton story, little known and rarely told,
called Shackleton, The Untold Story
. For the first time ever, Lawrence Howard, the Armchair Adventurer,
will tell the harrowing tale 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.
It's a story that speaks to something deep within the human psyche. It's about failure, but it's also about fortitude,
determination, duty and honor. It's about reaching deep and finding reserves.of strength we didn't know we had.
It's about the indomitable power of the human spirit.
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 marks the first year that we turn 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.
Lawrence is originally from New York but has lived in the Pacific Northwest most of his adult
life. He has a keen fascination for Antarctica, is a lover of limericks, and
enjoys homemade ginger ale. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.