Tag Archives: underwater theater

Blacktip Island Resort To Show ‘Sea Hunt’ Underwater

A prop from the set of the 1950s classic TV series Sea Hunt. Eagle Ray Cove resort will begin showing ‘Sea Hunt’ episodes underwater this week. (photo courtesy of Peter Southwood)

A Blacktip Island resort will begin showing episodes of the 1950s scuba-themed television series ‘Sea Hunt’ this week on an underwater screen in Eagle Ray Cove to celebrate the Caribbean island’s long history of scuba diving.

“People love those campy black-and-white shows with the old-timey scuba rigs,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “We showed ‘Sea Hunt’ before, at the bar, but the results were underwhelming. Then we came up with this, where divers on scuba can watch it. It’s like a night dive, but better.

“We set up a big screen right off the end of the dock, and pipe the soundtrack through underwater speakers,” Skerritt said. “Divers can sit in the sand and watch a 20-minute show. We can’t serve popcorn down there, but we sell it on the dock before and after.”

Divers praised the move.

“It’s a mondo-cool take on an old show,” Alison Diesel said. “And it’s always good to have something different to do on this little rock. I can lie down in the sand and watch Lloyd Bridges do his thing, like when I was a kid watching with my dad.

“And the way-shallow depth and short show times mean you can chill about decompression sickness,” Diesel said. “You can also sneak down a squeeze bottle filled with your favorite adult beverage, if you’re low key about it.”

Eagle Ray Cove discouraged alcohol consumption during shows.

“We ask folks not to bring alcohol,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “This is Blacktip, though, so that’s asking a lot. We will have dive staff down there to surface anyone obviously drinking.”

Other divers were pleased with what they called an enhanced underwater experience.

“It’s great seeing the old Mike Nelson adventures underwater, but it’s what goes on offscreen that really makes the dive,” Payne Hanover said. “The light from the screen attracts all kind of fish. Last night we had reef sharks tearing into schools of snapper. It was awesome, watching someone wrestle a shark on film while real sharks frenzied around us. And if you sit too close to the screen, you’ll get swarmed by blood worms.”

Some residents objected to the practice.

“Underwater movies can’t be good for the fish,” Harry Pickett said. “And divers kick the hell out of the reef bad enough as it is. Now they’re gonna kill even more coral.”

Latner belayed those concerns

“Out in the lagoon, there’s no coral to kill,” he said. “And the fish actually seem to enjoy it. Or the ones that’re left, anyway.

“Our main safety concern is current and surge,” he said. “It has to be pretty calm for us to show the episodes. First trial run you couldn’t see the screen there was so much sand stirred up.

Skerritt said he hopes to expand the showings.

“If this proves popular, we’re thinking of branching out and showing ‘Flipper.’ Maybe ‘Baywatch,’ too.”

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Blacktip Island Community Players To Stage Underwater ‘Reef of Dreams’

reef of dreams

Finn Kiick, as scuba-diving pioneer Émile Gagnan, swims above Sand Spit Reef Thursday during the dress rehearsal of The Blacktip Island Community Players spring play, Reef of Dreams. (photo courtesy of Mudasir Zainuddin)

The Blacktip Island Community Players will stage their annual spring play this Saturday and Sunday underwater near the Sand Spit bar to raise money for island charities.

Reef of Dreams is a tropical re-imagining of Field of Dreams,” director Doris Blenny said. “Lee Helm got a wild hair up his butt and rewrote the screenplay at the bar one night. We were dubious at first, but Lee was adamant.

“‘When the primal forces of nature tell you to do something, you do it,’ is how he put it,” Blenny said. “Lee’s take is a dive resort owner hears a voice and builds an underwater dive shop, hoping Émile Gagnan will pay him a visit.”

Actors will perform offshore at Sand Spit Reef using full-face masks and hydrophones.

“It’s set on a reef, and we had to have some way to speak our lines,” BICP member Alison Diesel said. “We schmoozed the manufacturer to donate the masks. They really add to the dramatic feel. ‘Ever hold a wet wetsuit to your face?’ just doesn’t have the same punch on the surface.

“The underwater speakers give a way-eerier feel to The Voice, too,” Diesel said. “The first time Elena whispered ‘Oui, he will come,’ it totally freaked us out.”

The play’s cast includes:

  • Lee Helm as Ray Kinsella
  • Alison Diesel as Annie Kinsella
  • Hugh Calloway as Jacques Cousteau
  • Finn Kiick as Émile Gagnan
  • Gage Hoase as Sir John Haldane
  • Elena Havens as The Voice

Helm stressed the BICP have gone to great lengths to keep the performance from seeming derivative.

“It captures the film’s spirit without copying its trappings,” he said. “It’s set on a reef, not in a cornfield. There’s no crops of any kind. Or ball-related sports. And in the end, it turns out the voice was talking about Sir John Haldane all along.

“There’s minimal props, so a lot of it’s open to interpretation,” Helm said. “All the acting’s in mid-water, too, so the stage doesn’t get all silted. And we recruited about 40 resort guests as extras to make a long line of dive lights at the end, all coming to the underwater shop.”

The performance will be transmitted to the Sand Spit and the Heritage House, where non-scuba divers can view the show for an additional fee.

“We’ll have five different camera angles, so no one misses any of the action,” Blenny said. “You can really see the tension build on all the actors’ faces when it looks like Ray will lose his resort.

“The show stopper’s when Gage asks, ‘is this heaven?’ and Lee says, ‘no, it’s Blacktip Island,’” she said. “In rehearsals, it brought the house down. Several performers nearly drowned.”

Proceeds from the performances will go to Blacktip Island Habitat for Humanity.

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Blacktip Island Players to Stage Underwater “Winter’s Tale”

Cast members hit their marks while rehearsing for the Blacktip Island Community Players’ underwater production of “The Winter’s Tale.”

Cast members hit their marks while rehearsing for the Blacktip Island Community Players underwater production of “The Winter’s Tale.”

The Blacktip Island Community Players will stage an underwater version of Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ for their spring production, with all dialogue performed with scuba hand signals.

“This play’s a spring classic,” said director Doris Blenny, “Plus, with so much of the play set on the Bohemian coast, and with scuba diving being so central to our island life, it seemed natural to cast it in an underwater milieu.”

The underwater production was inspired by the success of last fall’s semi-submerged ‘The Somonyng of Everyman.’

“This is the first Shakespearean production performed solely with scuba signs,” Blenny said. “‘As You like It’ was done in American Sign Language several years ago, and there was a mimed version of ‘Titus Andronicus,’ but we’re doing something quite different here.”

“We had to invent all kinds of new hand signals for Elizabethan words and phrases,” retired linguistics professor and cast member Frank Maples said. “‘Fardel,’ ‘bawcock,’ and ‘the verier wit’ were especially challenging.”

The cast includes

  • Frank Maples as Leontes
  • Kitty Smarr as Hermione
  • Jay Valve as Polixenes
  • Finn Kiick as Florizel
  • Polly Parrett as Perdita
  • Payne Hanover as Autolycus

Lee Helm is temporarily standing in as Antigonus after the company lost several actors in rehearsal mishaps.

“That ‘Exeunt, pursued by a shark,’ stage direction’s been phenomenal in walk throughs,” Payne Hanover said. “But it’s played hell with our Antigonuses. We’ve had to replace him three times. And counting.”

The play opens on Earth Day, April 22, with all proceeds from the first day’s show going to the Coral Reef Awareness and Preservation fund.

“Our staging emphasizes reef conservation,” Blenny said. “Two coral heads will serve as the backdrops for the Kingdoms of Sicily and Bohemia.

“We also have schools of French grunts and schoolmaster snappers trained to play the respective courts,” Blenny said. “Of course, the occasional snapper will nip an actor’s fingers, but a bit of blood’s necessary for any art.”

Limited kneeling space will be available in the sand around the underwater stage. Seating and a live video feed will be available at the Sand Spit bar. The bar will feature Sicilian wines and Bohemia-brand beer.

A ban on hand heckling from the underwater audience will be strictly enforced.

“Japes and cat-calling were a tradition at the original Globe Theatre,” Blenny said, “but we’ll have none of that here. Anyone gesticulating or making rude gestures will be escorted to the surface.”


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