National Geographic Live Returns for a Third Season, Presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts and Discovery Place Science

May 7, 2020 / Blog
By Kitty Janvrin

National Geographic Live Returns for a Third Season, Presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts and Discovery Place Science



Becky Bereiter, (704) 348-5814

[email protected]


(April 8, 2020) Charlotte, NC - The acclaimed speaker series National Geographic Live will take Charlotte fans from the red plains of Mars to towering mountain summits and the jungles of Africa when it opens its third season at McGlohon Theater this fall. 


Presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts and Discovery Place Science, the upcoming season will feature new presentations by three renowned National Geographic explorers, opening with climber and adventurer Mark Synnott presenting “Life on the Vertical” on November 12, 2020. NASA engineer Kobie Boykins follows with “Exploring Mars” on January, 28, 2021. Bob Poole, a wildlife filmmaker, closes the season with “Nature Roars Back.”


National Geographic Live is the live events division of National Geographic. With a broad roster of talent including renowned photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers and adventurers, National Geographic Live’s critically acclaimed programs have connected with audiences worldwide for over a century. Currently, National Geographic Live events are held in a variety of cities around the world, including, Seattle, Tampa, Los Angeles, and Calgary. In each of these cities, speakers share behind-the-scenes stories from the front lines of exploration onstage alongside stunning imagery and gripping footage.


“We are thrilled to be bringing some of National Geographic’s most dynamic and entertaining explorers to McGlohon Theater. National Geographic Live events are a unique opportunity for people in Charlotte to meet these visionary individuals in person, and to be inspired by the fascinating stories and breathtaking images they will share from their expeditions to the far corners of our planet,” said Danielle Deabler, Senior Vice President for Global Media and Experiences at National Geographic.


“Our partnership with Discovery Place Science to present National Geographic Live over the past three years has brought a new, unique series to inquisitve minds in Charlotte,” said Tom Gabbard, President and CEO of Blumenthal Performing Arts. “The caliber of speakers and visual presentations continues to awe and inspire our audiences.”


In addition to the three public performances, the Blumenthal Performing Arts and Discovery Place Science collaboration includes pre-show events themed around each night’s presentation. This season will also include an educational presentation of “Nature Roars Back” with Bob Poole. Students will have the opportunity to participate in special activities and experiences at Discovery Place following the presentation. For information and tickets for the school shows, contact Discovery Place at 704-372-6261 ext. 300.


Season tickets for the National Geographic Live series are on sale now at or at (704) 372-1010. Season ticket holders have priority access to the best seats at the best price, access to the three pre-show events, and can easily add on tickets for friends and family.


Season tickets begin at less than $80. An extended payment plan is available for season tickets.


The National Geographic Live programs featured in Charlotte’s 2020-21 season include:


LIFE ON THE VERTICAL – November 12, 2020, McGlohon Theater

Mark Synnott, Climber


Life on the Vertical_1600x600.jpg


Mark Synnott is a man ever on the brink of new discovery. A big wall rock-climber of the highest order, he’s made legendary first ascents of some of the world’s tallest, most forbidding walls, from Baffin Island to Pakistan. Today, he uses his skills to break scientific ground, reaching incredibly inaccessible environments in search of rare species. It’s all in the spirit of adventure and exploration in order to educate about these sites of strange, remote beauty.


Mark Synnott, 45, is a pioneering big wall climber and one of the most prolific adventurers of his generation. His search for unclimbed and unexplored rock walls has taken him on nearly 30 expeditions to places like Alaska, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, Patagonia, Guyana, Venezuela, Pakistan, Nepal, India, China, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Russia, Cameroon, Chad, Borneo, Oman, and Pitcairn Island.

One of the first climbers to explore Baffin Island's remote east coast, Mark has been on five trips to the island and has pioneered four big wall first ascents on the east coast, including a grade VII on the 4700-foot north face of Polar Sun Spire—an epic wall that required the team to spend 36 nights in portaledges. In Auyuittuq National Park, Mark completed the first ski descent of the South Face of Mt. Odin via a 5000' couloir.


His book Baffin Island: Climbing, Trekking, Skiing was published in 2007. In Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, Mark established two grade VII big wall first ascents—The Ship of Fools on Shipton Spire and Parallel Worlds on Great Trango Tower. The latter, a 6000-foot wall topping out over 20,000 feet, is one of the longest rock climbs in the world. Closer to home, Mark has climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan 22 times, including several one-day ascents.


When he's not in the mountains, Mark works with The North Face Research, Design, and Development team and lectures frequently on his life as a professional climber and explorer. He has done motivational speaking for clients like General Motors, Bank of New York, Vanity Fair, the X Prize Foundation and National Geographic. Mark has also worked extensively in the film and television industry, both in front of and behind the camera. His credits include work for National Geographic Television, NBC Sports, Warren Miller Entertainment, Teton Gravity Research and Red Bull Media House. An accomplished journalist and author, Mark is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine, and his work has appeared in many other publications, including Men's JournalOutsideClimbingRock & IceSkiing, and New York Magazine.

Mark is also a certified mountain guide and the owner and director of one of the premier guide services in the east: Synnott Mountain Guides. SMG offers instruction in rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and avalanche education. He is also a longtime member of the Mountain Rescue Service (MRS) and currently serves on the board of MRS and the Access Fund.


EXPLORING MARS – January 28, 2021, McGlohon Theater

Kobie Boykins, NASA Engineer


Exploring Mars_1600x600.jpg


Few events in the last decade of space exploration have captured the world’s imagination like NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The successful deployment of the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004 launched a new era of scientific investigation of our nearest planetary neighbor, and marked a personal triumph for Kobie Boykins: he helped design and build the solar arrays that enabled the rovers to keep going long after their planned 90-day life. 


As supervisor of the mobility and remote sensing teams for the Mars rover Curiosity, Boykins monitored the headline making studies of the rover, including evidence that conditions on Mars could once have supported life. In 2013, Boykins received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal, one of the highest honors given to NASA employees and contractors.


Join Boykins for an engaging evening exploring the red planet—with an update on the latest chapter in Mars exploration. His boundless enthusiasm for unraveling the mysteries of outer space, and Mars in particular, is infectious.


Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Kobie Boykins graduated Cum Laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, before becoming a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.


Boykins has worked on projects from Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rovers to Ocean Surface Topography Mission over more than ten years at the lab. He was involved in the NANOROVER/MUSES-CN microver technology and flight task and has worked many pre-proposal and proposals as a member of Team X. Boykins served as the CogE of the Mars Exploration Rover’s Solar Array Mechanisms and Structures and as a member of the ATLO team.


Currently, Boykins is supervisor of the mobility and remote sensing mast teams for the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity.


NATURE ROARS BACK – March 4, 2021, McGlohon Theater

Bob Poole, Wildlife Filmmaker


Nature Roars Back_1600x600.jpg


Experience an epic African wildlife park through the eyes of an Emmy Award-winning natural history cinematographer.  


A childhood in East Africa gave Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Bob Poole a 
fierce curiosity about the natural world as well as an adventurous spirit. For a six-part PBS/Nat Geo International series, Bob drew on that experience to document the rebirth of a lost Eden: Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, a jewel of Africa’s parks system until civil war almost destroyed it. There, he joined forces with rangers and scientists (including his sister, renowned elephant researcher Joyce Poole), on perhaps the biggest conservation project on the planet. He’ll share secrets of filming lions, crocs, elephants, and spectacular scenery, and tell how he cracked the “Gorongosa code”—learning to read the landscape and find prime locations for filming the park’s spectacular wildlife.   


Join the acclaimed cinematographer and filmmaker for unforgettable images and stories of Gorongosa’s majestic animals—and learn how the wild places we’ve broken can be put back together. 


Bob Poole grew up in East Africa, where his father was the director of the Peace Corps, and later the director of the African Wildlife Foundation. His family spent much of their time with the abundant wildlife that thrived there during the 1960s and 1970s. Poole’s unique upbringing gave him an appreciation and curiosity of the natural world, a highly adventurous spirit, and a strong sense of self-reliance. 


Bob’s relationship with National Geographic began when he was a teenager working with a crew who had come to Kenya to film elephants. After completing a university degree in science, Bob traveled the world as a camera assistant before landing his first assignment as a cinematographer for National Geographic. The film, Coming of Age with Elephants, was about his sister, Dr. Joyce Poole, the renowned elephant zoologist.  


Now an Emmy Award-winning director of photography, Bob films both people and wildlife and has made a career in front of the camera as well.  His extensive credit list includes documentaries for PBS, NATURE and NOVA, BBC, over 30 films for Discovery Networks, and an additional 35 plus films for National Geographic Television. 


Bob works around the world and his passion for wildlife conservation has taken him to some of Africa’s most remote locations. Whether tracking elephants in extreme desert environments of Mali, following wildebeest across the Serengeti, or traveling road-less regions of war-torn Sudan, Poole’s lifetime experience and unfailing tenacity help him to capture remarkable moments. For this he won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Cinematography while working on the series Great Migrations for National Geographic. 


Working on the other side of the camera, Bob is the main character in a National Geographic film, War Elephants, which premiered in March of 2012. The film was nominated for an Emmy: Best Nature Program 2013, was a Finalist at Jackson Hole for Best People and Nature Program, and won Best Documentary at the Sun Valley Film Festival. 


Bob spent two and a half years working on Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise, a six-hour primetime series for PBS and National Geographic International, which premiered September 22, 2015. He is the presenter, narrator and wildlife cameraman for the series. 


In 2015 he spent three months following and filming a family group of elephants for a National Geographic film called Little Giant and worked as a "Cameraman in Vision" on a new BBC One series. 


Bob sits on the board of the Gorongosa Restoration Project, is a Fellow with the Explorers Club, and is a member of National Geographic Speaker's Bureau. 


Season tickets are on sale now!

For more information or to make a purchase:

  • Visit
  • Call (704) 335-1010




Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported by PNC Bank, sponsor of the PNC Broadway Lights.



Discovery Place is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides STEM education to the Carolinas through four distinct museum experiences at Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Nature and Discovery Place Kids, interactive educational programming, professional development training and community outreach initiatives. Discovery Place is supported, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council.



National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and the National Geographic Society, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 132 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or