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

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.