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Written by Samuel D. Hunter and first produced by Playwright’s Horizons in 2012, THE WHALE has earned a 2013 Drama Desk Award, a 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, and Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play.
David is thrilled to return to the SpeakEasy Stage Company, having directed the Boston premieres of The Motherf**ker with the Hat (2013 Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Actress), Red (2012 Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Actor), and Blackbird (2009 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Actress). Other recent directing projects include John Kuntz’s The Hotel Nepenthe as part of the Emerging America Festival at the Huntington Theatre; Medea, The Hotel Nepenthe, The Duchess of Malfi, and Titus Andronicus (2007 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director) for Actors’ Shakespeare Project; Doctor Faustus at the Modern Theatre at Suffolk University; the New England premieres of Cherry Docs, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and My Name is Rachel Corrieat New Repertory Theatre; the world premieres of The Farm by Walt McGough and The Salt Girl by John Kuntz at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre; Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro with Brandeis Theatre Company; and The Winter’s Tale as part of the Shakespeare Exploded Festival at the American Repertory Theater. David has proudly served as the Director of the Theatre Program at Concord Academy since 2000. www.davidrgammons.com.
What is THE WHALE about?
Samuel Hunter’s THE WHALE is about a man named Charlie, who weighs 600 pounds and is — figuratively and literally — trapped: trapped in his body, trapped in his apartment in rural Idaho, and trapped in cycles of hope and despair. The play uses an interconnected web of allusions, from Melville’s Moby Dick to the Biblical tale of Jonah and the whale, as it explore’s Charlie’s complex relationships with his estranged wife and daughter, his on-line English Literature students, the nurse who helps care for him, and a mysterious Mormon missionary who comes to his door.
What attracted you to the project?
I’m drawn to this play for its profound humanity, and its ability to veer from dark humor to great pathos. I love the mix of themes that the play tackles: obsessive behavior, religious faith, isolation and connection, and the potential for the multiple identities and experiences of the human mind, body, and spirit. I’m fascinated by Hunter’s rich use of language, and his ability to find both poetry and naturalism in the voices and relationships of his characters.
What are some of the challenges you face in bringing this show to the stage?
The physicality of the lead character is certainly one of the play’s most significant challenges. The actor taking on the role of Charlie will be working with a body suit that will look and move — I hope! — as natural as possible. I’m really looking forward to getting into the body and psyche of such a complicated character: how he moves, how he thinks, how he feels, how he interacts with the world.
Why will SpeakEasy audiences love it?
I’m so excited to be directing the New England premiere of this important, powerful, and award-winning new play! SpeakEasy audiences will be thrilled by the smart, provocative writing and the brave humanity of the characters. The play is full of surprises and memorable moments that will provide audiences laughs, tears, and a lot to think about!