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Leon's Productions
Alice In Wonderland
The Hairy Ape
Martini Ceremony
Moby Dick (Norfolk)
The Sea
The Grapes Of Wrath
Moby Dick (Alaska)
The Tempest
Moby Dick (Japan)
MOBY DICK(Norfolk)
ODU Theatre. February 18 - March 5, 2000
Directed by Leon Ingulsrud
Set by Konrad Winters
Lights by Scott Quirk
Sound by Leon Ingulsrud/Holly Hall
Costumes by Jorja Jean

Along with working on the plays of Samuel Beckett and William Shakespeare, I see wrestleing with Moby-Dick on stage as a life-work. The production in Norfolk was the first foray into this particular arena, and the text that we developed became the basis for all subsequent itterations.

The most amazing thing to me about doing this production was to discover the degree to which Melville's text translated to the stage. Despite wanting to tell this story on stage, I was truly surprised by how well the language, particularly Ahab's speeches, translated to the stage. It is inherently dramatic language and exciting on stage.

This production was the fourth production that I had done in four years as a guest artist at ODU. Many of the cast had done shows with me before. Edwin Castillo who played Ishmael had done all four.

Whereas in later productions of MOBY DICK (Alaska and Japan) there was a focus on local traditions relating to whaleing, the Norfolk production focused on the role of the novel in American culture and society. The novel's existence not only as a story but also as a big thick literary work that many people are required to read.
Director's Note:
I don't have any doubt that Herman Melville’s MOBY-DICK is the great American novel. It sits on our shelves in danger of fulfilling Mark Twain’s definition of a classic as “a book you respect but never read”. As a theatre artist, the first time I read the book I realized that for the American theatre to come into its own, it must pass through the gate that Melville has hewn open. I also knew that one way or another I would spend the rest of my life wrestling with this tome.
MOBY-DICK is the great American myth. Unlike Homer's Odyssey the Pequod is not on a journey home. Melville’s Whaler is on an eternal journey into the unknown. A ship plummeting across the ocean in pursuit of an obsession. A planet hurtling through an inky universe.
In approaching this work, I have tried to respond to the spirit of the book, rather than simply the plot. As anyone who has read the book knows, MOBY-DICK is a complicated work. It is evident that Melville was aware that he had written a book that would invite controversy, but I don't think he expected the controversy to center around the form of the book.
This form which confused many of the early critics now appears to us as a clear forerunner of modernism and even postmodernism. A simple telling of the story in MOBY-DICK misses much of the richness of what Melville does in this book.
The text for this production is primarily from the novel, but in the spirit of the book we have digressed into a variety of sources. The cast and I conducted interviews and did extensive research from which text was drawn.
Sources include Dante, Marshall McLuhan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Laurie Anderson, Douglas Adams, Bob Dylan, Cervantes, the Koran, Frederick Nietzsche, Lou Reed, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, the Bible, various literary scholars, naturalists and our friends and family.
I have nothing but admiration for the courage and creativity of the cast for this production. They were intimately involved in the development of the text as well as the staging. Their dedication was an important inspiration.

Leon Ingulsrud, February 2000

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