Alison Diesel, front left, and Jessie Catahoula, front right, and other cast members walk through the ‘Smiting of Humbaba’ scene from the Blacktip Island Community Players’ during an on-land rehearsal for the new underwater operetta, ‘Gilgamesh.” (photo courtesy of Kadumago)
The Blacktip Island Community Players this week announced they will take their audiences back to Second Millennium BCE Sumer with their 2022 fall production, an underwater operetta based on the ancient Sumerian creation myth the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh.’
“We try to stretch ourselves with our fall plays,” BICC creative director Doris Blenny said. “Last year’s underwater ‘Pirates of Penzance,’ with actors in full-face masks and live-streamed to all the bars, was a rousing success, so we decided to do the same thing with ‘Gilgamesh.’ We had to create our own scores and librettos, of course, but that just enhanced the growth opportunity.
“It’s the oldest recorded story in the world, and it has so much in common, in terms of theme and sensibility, with life on Blacktip today’,” Blenny said. “We had input from The Blacktip Island Literary Society as well as local cryptoarcheologists. Coral heads will serve as the city of Uruk, and sea plumes will be Inanna’s huluppu tree. The effect will be otherworldly.”
Actors were excited about the new material.
“Gilgamesh’s really the world’s first buddy film,” Alison Diesel said. “Him and wild-man Enkidu basically travel the world, taking names and kicking ass. They save the goddess’ tree, whack Humbaba the giant, then smite the Bull of Heaven.
“With Inanna being the goddess of love and war, well, it’s something everybody can relate to,” Diesel said. “And to make it even more relevant for today’s viewers, with the city of Uruk being in the mix, we added some Middle Earth uruk-orcs, too.”
Others emphasized the music and casting.
“Payne Hanover and Elena Havens worked night and day to come up with the music and lyrics,” assistant director Helen Maples said. “It may sound reminiscent of their ‘Nudibranchs—The Musical’ score, but time was tight, and the songs take on an added resonance underwater.
“Casting-wise, Dermott Bottoms was the obvious choice for Enkidu the wild man,” Maples said. “And frankly, during rehearsals, we all get a kick out of him going berserk and beating the stuffing out of Lee Helm, playing the Bull of Heaven.”
Other cast members include:
- Cal Batten as Gilgamesh
- Jessie Catahoula as Inanna
- Finn Kiick as Ishtar
- Alison Diesel as Humbaba
- Jerrod Ephesians as the orc chieftain
BICC leaders say audience participation will be encouraged throughout the performance.
“This will be an immersive, collaborative experience for everyone,” Blenny said. “We’ll especially need extra orc soldiers of Uruk when they charge out to confront Humbaba.”
Performances will be Saturday and Sunday afternoons in November. Proceeds from the show will go to the Blacktip Island Cryptoarcheology Society.
All audience members will be required to pass a Breathalyser test prior to entering the water following last year’s unfortunate ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ incident during the BICC’s Hannukah play.