Play / Epic
Do I have to tell Moby Dick to prove how unsurpassable literature is?
What is this story?
The story of a sailor who wants his revenge?
Moby Dick has taken Ahab’s leg and he won’t sleep until he is avenged?
Ahab, the pure man of the sea, who represents the folly of pride?
The thinly veiled story of man’s impossible struggle against the creatures of the apocalypse? and here is the whale become an insatiable Leviathan, existing to kill?
the struggle of good against evil – but we don’t know where the good is and where the evil is anymore – that’s what makes this story powerful
The story of the boy against the titan
of the man against the sea
a story so dense, which presents so many levels of understanding, that it seems difficult, not to say completely idiotic and disrespectful, to cut it up and stage it in “selected pieces”.
That is right, this novel requires the immensity of our imagination to unfold in its entirety, unleashing the waves and madness at the same time, the fury of man against that of the animal, the terrifying obsession of the captain and the terror of the great white whale.
Yes, like all epic novels, it does not normally belong on a stage –
A stage is far too small for the immensity of the sea and the fury of Ahab.
Even the cinema can only partially capture the power of this story, and you’ll have to use all the tricks of 4DX to carry your audience a little way into the abyss of the oceans.
So a theatre scene? pffft, that’s way too narrow a theatre scene, for Moby Dick.
Yes – that’s what we think, from a distance.
When we just think about the material aspects.
It is true that everything is less immense than a human imagination.
But this imagination, when the artists give it holds, it doesn’t care to be deployed from written lines or from a theatre scene, or from a movie.
and it is there that, obviously, any staging can be welcome.
So when the company Plexus Polaire set out to put Moby Dick on a stage, they first looked for ways to do it.
They used all the means that are on a stage.
The simplest way to convey Ahab’s madness, Ishmael’s fear, the crew’s resignation, was to use masks.
And given the characters, “carved wood” masks were ideal.
From there to the creation of some kind of puppets, there was only one step – which they took.
When you know what goes on top of the stage to hold the spotlights, speakers, performers and set pieces – a sort of huge grid in some theatres – you also know that the stage will be in 3D without the need for blue and red glasses.
So they were able to make Moby Dick appear – right there on the stage, huge, terrifying, the cornered and angry animal, riddled with harpoons, that will either kill you or die.
And of course, because this is theatre, and you don’t just see in the theatre, they chose and created the sound for Moby Dick.
The music – of course
and the voice – the voice of the narrator – the voice of the actors – that voice that you hear in real life, with its power, those moments when it breaks, those moments when it hides, those moments when it reappears, bewitching and nobody knows where it is and whose voice it is – and there the spectator wants to see.
It is therefore a remarkable, almost unbelievable play, which proves by 9 if proof were still needed, that yes, the epic has its place on a theatre stage.
& this is rather practical – not to say welcome – when you are thinking of preparing a program that would be linked to a game like Subnautica, for example – at random…
Featured Image : Moby Dick – by Plexus Polaire Company