The Whale e-Bulletin

OCTOBER 12–December 15

"Consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life."

"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it." 

–Herman Melville, Moby Dick

None of the five vivid, lonely characters in Sam Hunter's mighty, exquisitely heart-rending The Whale have any recent acquaintance with the peace or joy of Melville's metaphorical Tahiti. ...

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About two and a half years ago, I took a job teaching expository writing to freshmen at Rutgers University. Initially, I had taken the job out of desperation; I needed money and was unable to find any adjunct teaching in theater departments anywhere in the city. An hour into the first training session, as I sat in the middle of a large group of English MA and PhD candidates and recent grads, a thought started to nag at me: You have no idea how to write a good essay. When we broke out into smaller groups, everyone introduced themselves and I stuttered a bit before telling the group that I had a masters degree in playwriting. You have no idea how to write a good essay. We read examples of student work, everyone arriving at a consensus about what grade to assign various papers. You have no idea how to write a good essay. References to The New Yorker were endlessly tossed around, pontifications about secondary theses, debates about paragraph organization, references to grammar terms that I hadn't heard since I was in the eighth grade. Dear God, what's the difference between a gerund and a participle? YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO WRITE A GOOD ESSAY. ...

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Visit our show page to read more about The Whale, including bios for Samuel D. Hunter, Davis McCallum and the cast!

The Whale

There's Steinbeck and Salinas. Faulkner and "Yoknapatawpha." Raymond Carver and his stomping ground, the Pacific Northwest. Philip Roth and Newark. More recently, there's Annie Baker and her fictional Shirley, Vermont. And then there are the settings of Sam Hunter's plays which, if you look closely, reveal a pattern:

"An Olive Garden franchise in Pocatello, Idaho." "The inside of a weathered, paper-littered, unkempt office off of some random exit on I-90 in northern Idaho." "Lewiston, Idaho." "Northern Idaho, the present." "Various locations en route from Montana to Iowa via I-90." "A large casino on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation in northern Idaho." "The windowless breakroom of a Hobby Lobby in Boise, Idaho." "The interior of a small, ranch-style house in Viola, a small town of about 700 people in northern Idaho."

"I never sit down and say to myself that I'm going to write another play that's set in Idaho," Hunter told Idaho Public Television earlier this year. "It always just sort of naturally falls there." ...

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The media are calling it "The Mormon Moment." Perhaps you've noticed it. The GOP nominee for President is Mormon. The Book of Mormon remains by far the hottest ticket on Broadway. And, the ecclesiastical ad-men of Salt Lake City have launched an omnipresent, well-produced TV campaign featuring normal folks—a New York comedienne working for The Daily Show, a Haitian woman turned American mayor, a French opera singer—who are meant to strike most of us as unlikely Latter-day Saints. ...

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meet the team

During the run of The Whale, post-performance discussions with Samuel D. Hunter and Davis McCallum have been scheduled for the following dates:

– Wednesday, October 17
– Sunday, October 21 (following the matinee) with Director of New Play Development Adam Greenfield
– Friday, October 26

These discussions are an important aspect of our play development process. We hope you can take part!

Book Your Seats! 

Stories on 5 stories: POetic Justice

You're out of order! Still, no one objects to Stories on 5 Stories, Playwrights Horizons' annual, one-night-only, one-of-a-kind fundraiser.

Join us on Monday, October 22nd to see seven new mini-plays by some of America's finest playwrights. Each play will be set in an unconventional, unexpected space within the five stories of Playwrights Horizons' home at 416 West 42nd Street. Your contributions will benefit our developmental programs and productions.

This event has already passed. Visit our Events page to find more upcoming events for Playwrights Horizons.




Member tickets to The Whale are $30 each for all performances October 12–November 14, $35 each for all performances November 7–December 2 and may be reserved using any of the above methods. YOUNG MEMBERS: 30&Under Member tickets are $20; Student Member tickets are $10.


We recommend The Whale for those aged 14+. 


Go to Plan Your Visit to find out more about directions, parking, and neighborhood discounts!