A whale of a play

Credit: Alexander Iziliae
Credit: Alexander Iziliae

“These waves have been killing us.”

That’s not a line of dialogue from the Wilma Theater’s latest production, “Under the Whaleback,” though it could be. Richard Bean’s play traces the life of a British fishing vessel during three different decades, including a fatal storm at sea. But in this case those words were spoken offstage, by technical director Clayton Tejada, about the intricate choreography of lights, sound, and hydraulics needed to portray that storm on stage.

The Wilma’s set, designed by Matt Saunders, represents the trawler in cross section, with hydraulic pistons which cause it to lurch up to three feet on either side. The open design of the ship’s cabin, inspired by director Blanka Zizka’s research in Hull, England, where the play is set, and on architectural drawings which Saunders studied, is meant to evoke the feeling of being on the ship itself. The sensation is enhanced by intricate lighting schemes and forty small speakers planted under seats throughout the theater that allow the sound of the waves to wash through the audience.

“We didn’t have to have a flat set with the actors running back and forth, acting like they’re on a moving boat,” Saunders says. “I started researching a lot of blueprints of boats, architectural drawings of boats, and found the cross-sections to be really stageworthy. I didn’t want to illustrate the sea around the boat, but to focus on the boat itself as an iconic object.”

A few hours before the show’s first preview performance, Tejada joked that crew members were taking bets on when the first audience member would become seasick. No one involved with the production had turned green just yet, but Saunders is hoping their efforts translate to a realistic experience for the audience. “The movement of hydraulic pistons isn’t metaphysically equivalent to the movement of the sea, so we’re trying to massage that with lights and sound,” he says. “We’re trying to make the movement of the boat as mysterious and dangerous as possible.”

 

If you go
‘Under the Whaleback’
Through April 7
Wilma Theater
265 South Broad St.
$39-$66, 215-546-7824
www.wilmatheater.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Antoine Fuqua can kill someone with just a…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

Books

Does Lena Dunham have any secrets left?

Get a sneak peek at her new book to determine if it’s worth the read.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

Style

Sarah Doukas on social media, models and diversity

The maker of Kate Moss tells Metro how social media can drive the diversity change in the fashion industry.

Education

Here are this year's most creative college application…

The college application essay is one of the only times during the admissions process where a student can showcase his or her personality. While many…

Style

Nicola Formichetti on Diesel, the digital revolution and…

The artistic director of fashion label Diesel – and stylist for Lady Gaga – is creating human connection through social media.

Education

Your older siblings probably had a big impact…

As many high school students agonize over where to go to college, it turns out they turn to a very familiar source for advice and…