By late March 1902, the British National Antarctic Expedition's ship Discovery was frozen in. Atop the ice, the explorers erected a hut, which was fitted with a stage, scenery, and footlights. The Royal Terror Theatre opened in June with Ticket-of-Leave and climaxed in August with a minstrel show. In the icy darkness white men played women and black men, parodied and critiqued structures of power, reinforced attitudes of racial prejudice, and labored at activities that saved their sanity if not their lives. The prolonged engagement in play challenges the easy narrative of courage, endurance, and heroic survival usually associated with polar expeditions.

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