Small-town Idaho is the setting for the characters who inhabit the world of Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale. The people and the place draw you deep into the story through Hunter's skillful writing.
He is on the rise in the American theatre landscape: Hunter received a 2012 Whiting Writers' Award that noted his "abundant promise of future work." And The Whale already has completed successful runs at the Denver Center Theatre and Playwrights Horizons in New York. Now, southern California residents can experience his writing at South Coast Repertory March 10-31. Tickets are available online at www.scr.org.
In The Whale, the issues are anything but small. For starters, its protagonist, Charlie, weighs 600 pounds.
In an interview with The New York Times, Hunter said, "Sure, the visual is intentionally initially shocking, in the same way that having an actor who is seven feet tall would be initially shocking. But, hopefully, by the end Charlie becomes an unlikely vehicle for the audience's empathy."
Charlie teaches online writing courses from his Idaho apartment; his weight keeps him isolated from the physical world outside. His daughter, Ellie, a teenager who's pushing against the adults in her life, suddenly shows up at his door. So does Elder Thomas, a young Mormon on his two-year mission. Then there's Liz, a devoted friend and caregiver. Charlie deals with more than weight issues; issues from his past have brought him to a crisis in the present.
"For me the play is fundamentally a story of a father trying to reconnect with his daughter," said Hunter.
South Coast Repertory's production of The Whale runs March 10-31 on the Julianne Argyros Stage, directed by Martin Benson. Tickets are available online: www.scr.org.
The cast includes Matthew Arkin, Jennifer Christopher, Wyatt Fenner, Blake Lindsley and Helen Sadler.
The design and creative team includes Thomas Buderwitz, sets; Angela Balogh Calin, costumes; Donna and Tom Ruzika, lighting; Michael Roth, original music and soundscape; Kevin Haney, prosthetic design and supervision; Jackie S. Hill, production manager; and Jennifer Ellen Butler, stage manager.
The Whale at SCR is generously supported by Honorary Producers Mary Beth Adderley and Elizabeth and Ryan Williams.
Tickets range from $20-70. Discounts are available for full-time students, patrons 25 years of age and under, fulltime educators, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For complete information, visit: www.scr.org.