As easy as it is to explain and accomplish, the whale may be the biggest challenge of
the show. The challenge is just to find the properties. Moby Dick has been done
many times. Directors always consider fooling with "the whale". Experience from
all the incarnations of the show demonstrates that the more realistic Moby is made to be,
the worse it is for the story and the show. As always, trust the audience.
The whale in
the story swims close, dives, goes away at a moment's notice and can and does attack the
ship and AHAB without warning. All that is done with dialogue. But the whale also devours
AHAB after destroying THE PEQUOD and AHAB'S whaling boat. For this one needs to face the
challenge of how to get an instant huge white whale on stage. Okay, enough teasing, here
comes the answer. Fortunately, it is actually very simple. Before you are let in on this
secret you have to promise to not reveal it to anyone except those who you also swear to
The Secret of the Whale
Moby Dick has been done many times across the world. Different directors have
attempted to improve on the whale challenge, but the answer was invented by one of the
authors, Robert Longden, who first directed the show.
LARGE White Beach Umbrellas
This is dramatic when performed properly. Its the way they did it in the West End. The
whale making cast members are blocked to open their umbrellas in a whale shaped design.
There are two eyes on the ones in the center. AHAB does a bit of struggling acting to get eaten as he is pulled by cast members legs
first into the mouth area. One cast member waves a huge white tail (remember whales go up
and down, fish go side to side) as the others shudder when AHAB is ingested (probably he
is sour meat). Lighting should not be too bright to heighten the drama.
Start working on this when you first start your production. It is good to have the
umbrellas early for blocking purposes. Scour the internet for available purchases. They
should only weigh about 5 to 7 pounds each and each cost about $10-20 American
(2003 funds). They should be five to six feet in diameter.
They can be patched up old ones, but need to be all white on the rain side. Painting them
white is fine although better yet is to find pure white ones for then
backlighting in maybe a red light will "bleed" through nicely..
Search the internet for white umbrellas. The following sites were found
in early January 2004:
Beware, some companies call the
outdoor patio furniture umbrella a "beach umbrella". Don't be
stuck with a heavy unwieldy pole.
A Note From Another Producer
regard to Moby Dick and the creation of the whale. In our performance we
searched high and low for white umbrellas and Robert was right, most
appear on web sites on the orient. However I contacted several umbrella
printing companies who have vast stocks of white umbrellas and they
agreed to sell me them for eight pounds each (which I thought was a
little excessive -- I'm a 'Scrooge' producer).
due to an excellent stage manager, we found a shop that sold large
golfing umbrellas for 2 pounds each. Most towns have a cheap shop that
sells anything in, so I would advise looking there first. Any color will
do as we have a tried and tested system that turns the umbrellas into
the Moby Color.
umbrellas started out as black and white with a logo on. We sprayed
white primer car paint onto the black panels of the umbrella. We then
sprayed grey car paint onto all panels of the umbrella (to give it
depth). Once this had all dried we re-sprayed the umbrella blotchy white (to merge in with the grey.....even white whales are not perfectly
white). Every now and again we add more grey and white (because the
paint will eventually flake as you open the brollies [sic]). Two big eyes were
pained on to two of the umbrellas and there was our Moby Dick.
Langston - Producer of the first Amateur Production of Moby Dick in the