A mashup of Herman Melville and Orson Wells with a dash of steampunk, Moby Dick Rehearsed is the latest production of English 4401: Producing the Play.
Written by actor/writer/director Orson Welles during the 1950s, the play is an adaptation of Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick.
A company of actors are called together to rehearse King Lear, only to be informed by their leader, The Governor, that they will instead rehearse a new play titled Moby Dick. The cast then transforms into the crew of a ship, the Pequod, under the command of Captain Ahab.
Designed with students in mind
A minimalist production that makes use of a simple set comprised of boxes and a small number of props, the steampunk element is an innovation of Dr. Jamie Skidmore’s, the production’s director and professor of English at Memorial.
“I often try to incorporate design elements into our university plays that I think will attract students to the show,” he said.
“For example, when we staged Mother Courage we built a giant skateboard ramp, and for Woyzeck our Drum Major breakdanced. Steampunk, with its anachronistic view of the Victorian era, seemed like a good fit for Moby Dick – Rehearsed.”
‘One never stops learning’
Student Evan Maddick is in his final year of a English major specializing in theatre/drama and a minor in history.
He is also completing the diploma program in performance and communications media and has been involved in theatre since he was a child. He plays the pivotal role of Captain Ahab’s first mate, Starbuck, in Moby Dick Rehearsed.
“My biggest focus as an actor is to push myself to keep improving; as an actor I believe one never stops learning,” he said.
“My final goal with each project is for the audience to only see the character on stage, not just someone pretending to be the character.”
For his role, Mr. Maddick researched the time period and the character and says he often changes his voice and the way he carries himself to accomplish this. His acting influences include Tim Curry and Kenneth Branagh, two actors with “big personalities, slightly over the top yet realistic and grounded on an emotional level.”
The cast and crew is comprised of the entire class of English 4401, save for professional actor Bruce Brenton who portrays the dual roles of Captain Ahab and The Governor.
The production includes some fast-paced sea shanties with punk rock instrumentation and is a guaranteed good time.
Moby Dick – Rehearsed will be performed at the Barbara Barrett Theatre at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Friday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors and can be reserved by contacting the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre box office at 709-729-3900 or by visiting the centre online.