A night of pure Moby-Dickery
To mark Herman Melville's 200th birthday in July 2019 I organised a one-off performance of 'Moby Dick, Rehearsed' by Orson Welles, last staged in London's West End in 1965. The venue was the Tin Tabernacle in Kilburn, a 19th century corrugated iron church, repurposed in the 1940s as a naval training ship and wonderfully cluttered with maritime gear, flags, lamps and tarry ropes. The cast was a mixture of professional actors, authors and indie publishers. It was a sold-out night and the large audience, plied with grog and ships biscuit, all joined in with the whaling hymns and sea shanties.
The production was designed by Laura Hopkins and the brilliant improvised musical score throughout was by the composer/musician Will Barrett. The cast featured Robert Cohen (as Ahab), Howard Horner (Ishmael) with the Pequod crew and other parts played by John Dobson, Mary East, Will Eaves, David Henningham and Tony White. Neil Griffiths played the whale, and I was Father Mapple. Following a grog-fuelled performance we were joined by the poet Alan Brownjohn who shared his vivid memories of the original 1965 production. Then Tony White read ‘First Fact’ from Charles Olson's Call me Ishmael (1947) and Jen Hodgson took the tiller of 'The Saucy Jen' for a salty conversation with shipmates Melissa McCarthy and Eley Williams. After which we had a raffle and more grog. (Pictures to follow)