Shattered Globe's THE WHALESHIP ESSEX Begins Tonight at Theater Wit
Shattered Globe Theatre will launch its 24th season with the Midwest premiere of the nautical drama THE WHALESHIP ESSEX by Founding Ensemble Member Joe Forbrich, directed by Lou Contey, playing tonight, August 29 - October 11, 2014 at its resident home, Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are available at www.theaterwit.org, in person at the Theater Wit Box Office or by calling (773) 975-8150. The press performance is Wednesday, September 3 at 7:30 pm.
THE WHALESHIP ESSEX will feature a 15-member cast including Shattered Globe Ensemble Members Steve Peebles, Angie Shriner, Drew Schad, Kevin Viol, Ben Werling, Joe Wiens and Brad Woodard with Zach Bloomfield, Lionel Gentle, Darren Jones, Josh Nordmark, Bridget Schreiber, Jonathan Stutzman, Alif Muhammad and Antonio Zhiurinskas.
The ship that inspired Melville's Moby-Dick and its crew met with tragedy on November 20, 1820, when it was sunk by an enraged sperm whale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Based on first-hand accounts of this event, this imaginative new play is an epic, ensemble tale of survival. Infused with authentic sea chanteys, THE WHALESHIP ESSEX revels in the common language shared by both the theatrical and the nautical worlds, and weaves an historic story of whaling with our modern-day quest for oil, the lifeblood of our economy.
In 2008, Joe Forbrich built and sailed his 16-foot sailboat Jenny from Long Island to Martha's Vineyard to spend the summer apprenticing as a boatbuilder by day, while working by night as an actor at The Vineyard Playhouse. It was on this trip that he first heard the story of the Essex and, blissfully caught between the nautical and theatrical worlds, the idea for his play - the true story of the destruction of a whaleship by a vengeful leviathan - was born. THE WHALESHIP ESSEX premiered June 21, 2014 at the newly remodeled Vineyard Playhouse after a reading at The Players Club and a workshop this spring in New York City.
"Shattered Globe is thrilled to reunite Joe Forbrich, now a produced playwright, with director Lou Contey for this boldly theatrical new production," comments Producing Artistic Director Sandy Shinner. "These two artists have a long history of exceptional work together. Opening SGT's new season with The Whaleship Essex honors this important partnership that has been forged in the Ensemble over the past 23 years - and signals a commitment to producing new work. Another issue of growing importance to the company is diversity in all its forms. In this work, we are addressing diversity not only within the racially diverse cast, but also in the design team. While the show features the men who have gone to sea, the design team and production staff is composed primarily of women artists," adds Shinner.
"Joe's play captures the theme 'for what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul,'" states director Lou Contey. "In a world constantly challenged by climate change and dependence on fossil fuels, the story of The Whaleship Essex is even more relevant as it examines mankind's hubris in relationship to his environment. The play shows that the relentless pursuit of oil, in any era, has a price beyond the cost of a barrel of oil: it may cost us our humanity: indeed our very existence," adds Contey.
The production team for THE WHALESHIP ESSEX includes: Ann Davis (set designer), Sarah Jo White (costume designer), Shelley Strasser Holland (lighting designer), J. J. Porterfield (sound designer), Michael Stanfill (projection design), Vivian Knouse (props designer), Christina Gorman (fight choreographer), Judy Anderson (production manager), Amanda Rozmiarek (technical director), Susan Gosdick (dialect coach) and Jeffrey Clark Stokes (stage manager).