Imagine this… You’re on a boat and you see an old man with a false leg limp onto the deck. Suddenly, your imagination runs wild. What was that rushing by, surely it had to be a shark; it’s always a shark. Though, maybe it was the legendary Kraken you’ve read about in Greek mythology.
The old man looks you dead in the eye and says: ‘Moby Dick.’
If you were as immature and as childish as I might be, you would squeeze your lips tight in case you might laugh. Then it hits you, it’s a sperm whale. You wonder how a man, the fraction of a whale’s size, would only lose a leg in that confrontation.
Captain Ahab, the embodiment of vengeance, obsession, and arrogance, is out for revenge on a sperm whale that devoured his leg. He feels the world has turned its back on him, leaving him feeling a lesser man than he had been.
Moby Dick, the all-time classic American novel written by the American writer Herman Melville, was playing at the Lookingglass Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Through word of mouth, people have been hurrying to see this legendary tale unfold live on stage.
The story speaks volumes about the human condition and what instills fear and how we exhibit behavior that serves to protect the selfish traits that lurk in the shadows of our minds.
I interviewed Artistic Director Mr. Andy White, who was really busy with the production, but was able to give up some of his time during his lunch break. I asked him the following few questions about this production of the play:
Question: How do you present this legendary, epic book as a play?
This is one of the most inventive and imaginative theater companies. It is a really great team. There are 24 groups that pull our resources together and everything keeps improving with each rehearsal. It’s especially important that we get support from the Chicago government, because it took us two years to prepare the play, and we continually improved it before it officially opened.
Question: It’s a full house. How do you achieve these good ticket sales?
The core of success is persistence, determination, and creativeness from everyone involved. We have some actors who are from acrobatic performance troops. They do great work. We have some trained artistic directors, an outstanding designer team, and some actors from the Actor Gymnasium. All make a really good team. We have three female actors dressing up as grown whales and a baby whale. The ideas are very creative, and always make a vivid impression on our audiences.
Question: What message do you want to send the audience with this play?
Well, we leave this for the audience to decide. Ahab’s obsessiveness in pursuing his creatures creates in the play both positive as well as negative messages. We can see some human connections at the end of the play, and the audience can draw their own conclusions from all that has taken place.
Those of us who had the privilege of watching the Lookingglass production of Moby Dick knew it deserved to win the multiple JEFF awards of best production, supporting actor, sound design, and rigging design.
It has also had excellent review from the Chicago Tribune.
Written by Monica in conversation with Lookingglass Theater Marketing Director Erik Schroeder, Thursday, June 25, 2015. Erik and Andy White were among the first of the founders of the theater in Chicago, Illinois, in 1988.