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Moaning and whaling

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Herman Melville may be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, but his spirit is alive and well at Green-wood.

On May 12, the ninth chapter of Melville’s “Moby-Dick” comes to life in the graveyard’s chapel with a performance of “Moby-Dick: The Sermon.” The interactive drama, in the last two performances of its nine-month run, is a joint effort by a new theater group, the Nimrods, and the Brooklyn Lyceum, the experimental Park Slope performance space.

“The chapel is not used as a location to sit to watch the action that happens on a stage — there is no stage,” Director Joe Rosato told GO Brooklyn. “The action happens around [the audience] as they enter the cemetery gates.” Upon entering the gates on Fifth Avenue, audience members are met by a lantern-wielding guide who will lead them through the dark to the cemetery’s chapel.

Once inside the chapel, the audience will get into the spirit by singing hymns before Father Mapple (pictured at right), played by various actors, takes the pulpit to spew his fire and brimstone: an ultra-dramatic take on the Old Testament’s story of Jonah.

The performance, the first in a series by the Nimrods, had originally aimed for a performance of a work by someone buried just underfoot.

“We were aiming for people who were buried at Green-wood,” said Rosato, “but settled for someone who was a New Yorker.” The next production will be “How Goes the Battle” by Henry Ward Beecher, the first minister at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn Heights, who does call Green-wood home.

Proceeds from the show benefit another resting resident: restoring the monument of legendary piano man Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

“Moby-Dick: The Sermon” is being performed at 8:30 pm (arrive no later than 7:50 pm at the archway near the entrance on Fifth Avenue at 25th Street. Latercomers will not be seated) at Green-Wood Cemetery’s Chapel (500 25th St., off of Fifth Avenue in Greenwood Heights). Tickets are $20. For information, call (718) 768-7300 or visit www.nimrods.org.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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