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Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick, reimagined for a new millennium.

Set on a futuristic version of earth that has suffered a catastrophic environmental collapse, the box office hit Ishmael by David Morton is a modern version of Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, reimagined for a new millennium as a contemporary space saga.

Hailed by critics as ‘a new kind of storytelling’ and ‘unlike anything else hitting the stage’ during its world premiere at Brisbane Festival in 2021, Ishmael is a visually compelling experience like no other. This boundary pushing production melds live film making with live action, miniature sets, models and cutting edge camera technology, puppetry and an original score to tell a captivating story about individual hope and collective redemption. Known for exposing the illusion of their work, Dead Puppet Society’s Ishmael takes it to the next level. As audiences watch the story unfold, they watch how it is made, live in front of their eyes.

Planet earth has been so badly polluted, the surface is smothered in a layer of thick, toxic clouds. With tight control over the tops of the tallest mountains where the air remains fresh, only the elite corporate class breathe clean air. The story follows the journey of Ishmael, a refugee who has been living in a corporation sanctioned camp below the clouds, on the darkened surface of earth. She is offered a chance of a new life above the clouds, but quickly discovers this means a perilous voyage to the outer solar system aboard the MV Pequod, a mining ship under the control of the notorious Captain Ahab. Once on board, Ishmael befriends Queequeg, the only other crew member - an escapee artificial intelligent droid experiment. After a rocky start, Ishmael falls into the groove of life on MV Pequod, until the crew are confronted by a destroyed mining ship. With the trauma of the loss of her brother fresh in her mind, Captain Ahab abandons the crew to journey into uncharted space to either find her brother alive, or to avenge him. 

By David Morton.

A Dead Puppet Society production.

2023 Brisbane and Regional Queensland tour dates:
QPAC, 19-27 May. Season finished.
Bundaberg, 31 May. Performance finished.
Cairns, 7 July. Performance finished.
Townsville, 16 August. Performance finished.

75 minutes

You can rent Ishmael and our other box office hits Holding Achilles and The Wider Earth via QPAC’s on-demand content platform, as well as access our Digital Workshop offerings and explore behind the scenes content for a deep dive into how we make our stage productions.

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Cast Ellen Bailey, Karl Richmond, Barbara Lowing and Anthony Standish, Lauren Jackson (voiceover)


Co-Director and Designer David Morton

Co-Director Matt Seery

Creative Producer Nicholas Paine

Composer Bec Sandridge*

Projection Designer Justin Harrison

Sound Designer and Music Supervisor Tony Brumpton

Lighting Designer Christine Felmingham

Co-Designer (props and locations) Jennifer Livingstone

Costume Designer Nathalie Ryner

Dramaturg Louise Gough


Technical Director Scott Barton

Wardrobe and Props Supervisor Savannah Mojidi

Stage Manager Nicole Neil

Head of Video and Audio Caitlyn Kidney

Head of Lighting Lauren Sallaway

Technical Consultant Benn Sargood

* All songs are written and recorded by Bec Sandridge, except Supernatural Lies written by Bec Sandridge and Xavier Dunn, and Claustrophobia written by Bec Sandridge and Dave Jenkins Jnr. All songs produced by Dave Jenkins Jnr.

The Ishmael script was commissioned by Dead Puppet Society.

The production was commissioned by Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Dead Puppet Society, and Brisbane Festival in association with Screen Queensland.

Additional support was provided by Glass Half Full Productions.

This project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. It is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and by Creative Sparks, a joint initiative of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

Ishmael is supported by our Technology Supporter, Christie.

Check out this video to discover how we partnered with Christie Digital to incorporate their state-of-the-art technology into Ishmael and production The Wider Earth to create high-tech, live visual experiences.

Visit our blog to view some magnetic moments captured by Dean Hanson (Ball Park Music) of Ishmael rehearsals in early May 2023.


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