DramaCentre’s “Moby Dick” takes the Family Weekend stage
Centre College alumni, students and faculty are coming together to adapt a classic American novel for the stage in DramaCentre’s Family Weekend production of Moby Dick.
Following the crew’s adventures on the ship Pequod, Herman Melville’s novel is adapted here for the stage by Ian Frank ’04. He has returned to campus to lead Centre faculty and students alike in this unique production of Moby Dick, who have shown him that “the more things change on campus, the more they stay the same.”
“The energy, the excitement, the curiosity, the passion of the students has been really inspiring and has been the thing that’s allowed this play, which is complicated and very ambitious, to happen in the amount of time that we’ve had,” he says. “Coming back and getting plugged into that intellectual current has challenged me to do my best work, just to keep up with them.”
The show, according to Chair of the Dramatic Arts Program Matthew Hallock, is “highly stylized” and different from other shows put on by the program in recent memory.
“People might have expectations about the ways in which this story might get told, and we are likely not to be playing to those expectations,” Hallock says. “The play is still Melville’s story at its core, but Ian has boiled it down to its essentials and expresses it in different ways than people might expect.”
Frank began his work on adapting Moby Dick while working toward his M.F.A. in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Over several years, he has distilled the 635-page novel into a two-hour play that is performed on a largely bare stage with props made solely of PVC piping.
“I wanted to come up with a way to invite the audience to use their imagination, and to sweep them up in what, I think, is a really thrilling adventure story,” Frank explains.
His interest in adapting the novel for the stage was heavily influenced by his Centre education—in particular, the Humanities class he took during his first year at the College.
“It really opened my eyes to the idea that there’s a lot to be mined from the classics, from studying great thinkers of the past,” Frank says. “What I always tell people is: Centre doesn’t teach you what to think, it teaches you how to think. It has made me a more observant person, a more critical thinker, a more courageous artist and a better global citizen—all of which are important when you’re making live work.”
As such, he believes that Melville’s story creates the “perfect show” for those affiliated with the College to attend.
“The book is about stepping out of your comfort zone—stepping off the safe island and going out to sea,” Frank says. “It’s so much about taking yourself on an intellectual adventure, to take yourself out of the things you know and the things that are safe to explore in this universe that are sometimes confusing and scary and dangerous.”
DramaCentre’s Moby Dick will open on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. Performances will also take place on Thursday, Sept. 17, and Friday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 19, at 5 p.m. in Weisiger Theatre in Grant Hall.
Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for senior citizens, students and groups of 10 or more; free to Centre faculty and staff; free to parents of Centre students; and free to Centre students with ID. Tickets are available from the Norton Center box office by calling 877-HIT-SHOW and at the Weisiger box office before curtain.
Ishmael – Taylee Wells ’16
Carpenter – Rachel Kent ’18
Queequeg – Caleb Neely ’17
Starbuck – Rachael Bischoff ’18
Flask – Emily Morrell ’16
Stubb – Zach Thron ’16
Tashtego/ Mary Starbuck – Ryley Swanner ’16
Father Mapple/ English Captain – Christ Lockhart ’17
Peter Coffin/ Olsson – Caty Herd ’16
Peleg/ Pip – Sara Thesing ’18
Elijah/ Capatain Gardiner – Matthew Cleverly
Dagoo – Dan Caudill ’17
Captain Ahab – Patrick Kagan-Moore
Stage Manager – Sean Fannin ’17
Assistant Stage Manager – Matthew Cleverly
Scenic and Lighting Designer – Matthew Hallock
Technical Director – Sean Fetherston
Costume Designer – Leigh Shine ’17
Costume Shop Manager – Kayla Higbee ’14
Props Designer – Nicole Pottinger ’16
Sound Designer – Savannah Taylor ’16
by Hayley Hoffman ’16
September 16, 2015