GISPA performers present Moby Dick musical

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Gulf Islands School of Performing Arts (GISPA) students make their return to ArtSpring next week after a three-year absence to present a larger than life production of Moby Dick. 

The GISPA version draws from the classic Henry Melville book and previous live theatre and musical scripts, but is a unique adaptation created by the high school students. 

“I feel like it is faithful to the original story with our own twist on a lot of the characters and  how it plays out,” said GISPA theatre-stream student Corbin Roome who plays Starbuck, was one of the dialogue writers and central in creating the bunraku puppets. “And I feel like we really do get to follow the journey of Ishmael and see all of these events that are sort of crazy and unreal in a way that’s pretty cool.”

GISPA dancer/choreographer Jane Holmes said the group also brought in “a lot of environmental stewardship and conservation themes, like hunting whales and their relationship to the ocean or their value separate from humans, and tying in the message that humans aren’t a different part of the ecosystem. They’re not this separate thing.”

Moby Dick runs Wednesday through Friday, June 8 to 10 at 7:30 p.m. at ArtSpring. 

GISPA students work together to develop their productions’ scripts, music and choreography to create a unique stage show. Collaboration creates an interesting challenge, explains musician William Acken, who has written a lot of music in his lifetime.  

“Normally when I write songs myself, I’m just like, ‘I have an idea.’ And I know how I think it will evolve as it’s evolving. Whereas when I’m working in a group, it branches out into separate ideas, and I have to kind of pick one and explain it to everyone else, which I imagine is very similar for everyone else.”

Holmes, who has been choreographing since she was about 10 years old, said, “The challenge or the beauty of creating a play instead of a singular piece of choreography is that it becomes less of a linear list of steps or movements and more of a well-rounded piece of art. And you get more into the emotional content and the theatrical aspects of playing a role in amongst actors and musicians. So it becomes more of a bigger picture instead of focusing in on every single step.”

Acken adds, “That goes back to having to cooperate with everyone because everyone’s adding their one little bit in. And at the same time you can’t have everything you want to be in there be in it, because it has to blend seamlessly with everything else.”

The students are eager to perform in front of a live audience after a Covid-forced break. 

“We’ve put a lot of work into this,” said Roome. “And we’re all really excited to be back on the stage and we just want to share that with people.”

Tickets for Moby Dick are $15 and on sale through ArtSpring.  

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