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Arts and Entertainment

Library Foundation's 'My Moby Dick' Promises to be one Whale of a Party

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My Moby Dick: Moby from Library Foundation of LA on Vimeo.

For the past month, the Los Angeles Public Library has beencelebrating the Herman Melville classic Moby-Dick with various events and activities (including a Patton Oswalt pop-up reading event at various branches a few weeks ago). Now tonight (Oct. 5) on the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, the LAPL throws an epic ending for this whale of a tale. [If like most, you haven’t picked up the book since a high school English teacher told you to, here’s a quick primer: The book follows sailor Ishmael on adventures on a boat captained by Ahab. The captain is driven by rage and revenge on the whale who took another boat—and one of his legs—from him.]

Tonight the LAPL presents My Moby Dick, a production that’s part party, theater, science lecture, variety show and film screening (a component of which was created by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris of Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks) that explores how the 600-page tome, first published in 1851, translates across the centuries to a decidedly Southern California audience.

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The multimedia event tonight is being directed by veteran theater director David Schweizer, who takes the audience into the minds of the novel’s characters. There’s a great lineup of performers, too, including Stacy Keach as Captain Ahab and Michael Arden as Ishmael. Also taking to the stage tonight are actor and Samuel Beckett expert Alan Mandell, actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, actress and playwright Charlayne Woodard, actor and composer Rinde Eckert, actor and performance artist John Fleck, writer Mark Z. Danielewski, poet Douglas Kearney, and science historian and Princeton professor D. Graham Burnett (The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century). Live music, inspired by Melville, will be performed by Garretson & Gorodetsky, featuring singer and performer Weba Garretson.

Contributing filmed interviews to tonight’s event are musician and Melville descendant Moby, comedian Oswalt, artist Ed Ruscha, food critic Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times Book Critic David Ulin, actor and screenwriter Buck Henry and others.

Even if you didn’t like the novel, this much is true: The LAPL is putting together a party of Moby-Dick proportions. And after it’s all said and done, maybe we’ll learn more about the Melville novel than when we were forced to read it in high school.

My Moby Dick at The Broad Stage. 7:30 pm. Tickets: $75, $60, and $47 through The Broad Stage website.