Friday, December 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UC Davis actors set sail with ‘Moby-Dick’

By
April 26, 2011 |

Check it out

What: “The Moby-Dick Variations”

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, May 5-7 and 12-14; 2 p.m. Sundays, May 8 and 15; 2 p.m.

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center

Tickets: $17-$19 genera; $12-14 students, seniors and children; http://mondaviarts.org or (530) 754-2787

Rating: PG-13

The UC Davis department of theater and dance presents “The Moby-Dick Variations,” an unconventional new work conceived and directed by John Zibell, a master of fine arts directing candidate, and devised by the production company. The multi-dimensional piece is inspired by Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.”

Like the novel, it is about perspective and multiculturalism. Unlike the novel, it is set in the present and investigates the disappearance of the human animal from the natural landscape.

“The Moby-Dick Variations” opens Thursday, May 5, and continues through Sunday, May 15, at Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

Melville’s “Moby-Dick” is the tale of the wandering sailor Ishmael and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod commanded by Captain Ahab, a character who is defined by his obsession for revenge on the sperm whale Moby Dick. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s ship and bit off his leg. “The Moby-Dick Variations” follows Melville’s narrative and plot in a non-linear fashion exploring the multiplicity of perspectives both within and outside of the novel.

Director Zibell’s objective is twofold: to enable the audience to experience the multiplicity of perspectives that Melville delivers in the novel, and to allow the audience further perspectives through their own and the actors’ contemporary lenses. “Traditionally, theater tells you what to think; ‘The Moby-Dick Variations’ audience has to bring thoughts of their own.”

Zibell describes the new work as an exercise in collective story-telling. One of the methods he has used to express this is a “breath score” developed by experimental composer and performance studies doctoral candidate Dylan Bolles. Zibell elaborates that “breath is rhythmic but not regular, like ocean waves.” He likens this approach to jazz: “Every performance will be different and we’re training to play a song, improvise like Coltrane. Conceptually what we’re doing is xenopoetics — composing out of disparate materials.”

These materials include Melville’s text, the performers and their present-day perspectives, digital video collage, scenic and costume designs.

“The scenic design is much like a street wall with layers of images or fliers containing layers of meaning,” says scenic designer Gian Scarabino, a master of fine arts candidate. All of these layers contribute to Melville’s ‘multitudinous, god-omnipresent.’ In some cases the layers themselves are even broken up by allowing performers to pass through to another perspective.”

Another method used to create the many strata of perspective is the “text score.” Following this blueprint, the actors perform all the different characters at varying times. “Everybody is Ishmael at some point,” Zibell says. Even audience members can be Ishmael, as they have the opportunity to view and interact with the performance from many viewpoints.

Although the piece experiments with the multiplicity of character and perspective, several anchors remain: Actors Will Klundt and Alejandro Torres serve as fixed versions of the characters Ishmael and Queequeg. Performer Emelie Coleman serves as another anchor in a ritualized dance sequence that is video-projected throughout the piece.

Zibell resists the typical audience experience. There is neither traditional stage nor spectator seating. Rather, audience members are invited to wander among the performers.

“Audience members may come to the theater expecting to be told the story of Ishmael, Ahab, Queequeg and others,” says Claire Maria Chambers, a cast member and a performance studies doctoral candidate. “Instead, they will be given impressions of and experiences of loss and love, strife and friendship, the vastness of the ocean and the idea of death.”

Additional dimensions are added to “The Moby-Dick Variations” by costume designer and master of fine arts candidate Maggie Chan. Her wardrobe reflects the period of Melville’s novel as well as the contemporary setting of this work. Among her designs is a coral reef costume worn by six of the female performers. Chan notes, “The coral women represent the beauty of the ocean, but at the same time when you look closely, you see details that you didn’t see from far away. Up close, you’ll see the dresses being a bit tattered and the performers wearing jewelry made from ‘trash.’ They encompass the beauty and man-made destruction of the ocean.”

Despite the experimental approach of “The Moby-Dick Variations,” the essence of Melville’s work remains.

“The beauty of the novel is in its prose and poetry,” Zibell says. “The narrative is almost not there. Like life, it feels like there’s a story but what you’re inside of is the experience, the poetry, not the objective meaning.”

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    UCD, UC team up to study effects of climate change

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Teens’ goal? Helping other soccer players around the world

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    There’s a plate for you at the Davis Holiday Meal

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Police seek suspect in hit-and-run collision

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Help sought in search for runaway Davis teen

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Feds release ‘framework’ to rate colleges

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Gunfire leads to DUI arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Konditorei presents free holiday concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Welcome 2015 with Mumbo Gumbo at a gala bash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Luminaria display planned in West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Blue Christmas service planned at Davis churches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Willett bench is a labor of love

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

     
    Author! Author! UCD hosts talks, Q and A on Asia-focused books

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    See diving ducks at city wetlands tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Downtown gift cards get a new perk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    A home for the holidays?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Nobel Prize winner will discuss research related to autism

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Explorit: Experience nano this spring

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Soup’s On will benefit NAMI-Yolo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Grandmothers support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Forum

    He needs them to pay up

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Cheers and Jeers: Have you ever seen the rain?

    By Our View | From Page: A14

    Defeating Ebola involves medicine, and prayers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Kudos to Central Park Gardens donors and volunteers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

     
    .

    Sports

    Cousins is back in lineup but Kings fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil boys hold off scrappy Rio Linda

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Blue Devils rout an undefeated Liberty squad

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    UCD RB coach Wright heads to Florida; what next?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Aggies nab junior college defensive lineman

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Nostra-Dunning makes his college bowl picks

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Tennyson’s first goal is the difference in Sharks win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Name droppers: Trio elected to academy of inventors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Arts

    DMTC announces auditions for ‘Sweeney Todd’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    ‘Before Midnight’ screening is tonight

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    DMTC plans New Year’s Eve party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

    Tom Rigney and Flambeau to play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
     
    .

    Business

    After 19 years, Alfa Romeo returns

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: A16

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Comics