Gorges Ocloo had for a long time wanted to create a play based on Herman Melville’s literary classic Moby Dick. When, several years ago, he saw a newspaper photo of an 11-year-old girl in her Sunday dress floating lifelessly in the azure-blue water of the Mediterranean Sea, the pieces of the puzzle started to come together. Did this girl, one of the first victims of a sunken refugee boat, know beforehand how dangerous her journey would be? And would the ever silent Queequeg, portrayed as an exotic ‘barbarian’, have boarded the Pequod if he had known in advance that Captain Ahab had a recklessly vengeful mission in mind?
Ocloo contacted the Nigerian writer Ben Okri for the adaptation of Moby Dick. He reworked Melville’s account to create a magic-realist story of the gap between power and powerlessness, high and low, rich and poor. A story set after the ship has sunk. In a poetic and enchanting world inspired by voodoo and animist tales. A place where anything is possible. Where Ahab and Queequeg exchange views for the first time, free from status and ego, free from material things, pure and untrammelled.
On stage we see Josse De Pauw, the celebrated American mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis and musician Toon Callier on a composition by Dominique Pauwels. You can expect a jazzy opera, swinging and full of energy, about the need for conciliation in an increasingly polarised society.
It is an evil voyage, I tell thee. If Ahab has his way, neither thee nor me, nor any member of this ship’s company, will ever see home again.