New behind-the-scenes footage from the upcoming world premiere of Moby-Dick gives theatre fans some insight into how the creative team, under the guidance of Tony-winning director Rachel Chavkin, plans to bring Captain Ahab’s pursuit of the whale to the stage at Massachusetts' American Repertory Theater next month.
In the video above, Tony-winning set designer Mimi Lien (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) explains how the scenery is constructed out of wood to mimic being in the hull of a ship, and more symbolically, inside the stomach of a whale. In addition, Lien uses a thrust stage, along with curvature on the floor and ceiling panels, to envelop audiences—who may be surprised by a few tricks hidden beneath the stage.
“There are things in the structure that start to evoke feelings of violence and brokenness that feel like it is certainly present in the America that we’re living in today,” the set designer says.
Below, puppet designer Eric F. Avery discusses using reclaimed items like plastic bottles and landfill waste to create an environmentalist message that runs through the show. “All of these things are very much a part of our lives getting expressed physically and visually on stage,” says Avery.
Avery also mentions there are a lot of different textures to the pieces, thanks to the wide-ranging emotion of the show that runs from ridiculous and high energy to somber and tender.
Moby-Dick is Dave Malloy's musical take on the Herman Melville novel, marking a reunion between the Great Comet composer and director Chavkin. Broadway alums Manik Choksi and Tom Nelis are set to star as narrator Ishmael and Ahab, respectively. Performances will begin December 3 at the Cambridge company.