BIG SKY – A fast paced, bluegrass-infused adaptation of “Moby Dick” called “Ishmael” will have its world debut at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Like January’s “The Winter Tale,” “Ishmael” is an original production developed during WMPAC’s Summer Conservatory program and created specifically for the Big Sky venue. It is the final performance of the 2017 winter season.
Drawing freely from the Herman Melville classic, “Ishmael” employs a single actor and three bluegrass musicians to enliven the tale of a restless country schoolteacher who decides a sea voyage could provide the change of pace he needs. He signs onto a three-year whaling trip with a captain he’s never met, and quickly finds himself in over his head. Cleverly whittled down to a 90-minute retelling intertwined with live bluegrass music, “Ishmael” transforms the notoriously thick tome into an approachable, engaging yarn.
“Ishmael” is another example of the ongoing collaboration between WMPAC and a growing network of Minneapolis-based theater artists that began with the center’s longstanding creative partnership with James Sewell Ballet.
In July 2016, as part of the Big Sky Conservatory, a residency program that brings top professional performance artists to Big Sky, WMPAC hosted Twin Cities’ actor Jack Weston, writer-director Leo Geter and members of the band Pert Near Sandstone. The artists spent a week in the mountains on the WMPAC stage and in the classrooms of the Big Sky School District while conceiving and forming the major themes of the play.
“Ishmael” first evolved out of a production of “The White Whale” performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival in 2015. The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center and a Minneapolis-based producer with Big Sky ties partnered to form a scaled up version with a new adapted script by Geter and score performed by members of Pert Near Sandstone.
Tickets for “Ishmael” can be purchased at warrenmillerpac.org.