The Whale

Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Tues—Fri at 7:30, Sat at 2 & 7:30, Sun at 2 & 7
Additional matinee Wed Nov 21 at 2

Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by Davis McCallum

On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a six hundred pound recluse hides away in his apartment eating himself to death. Desperate to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter, he reaches out to her, only to find a viciously sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen. Big-hearted and fiercely funny, The Whale tells the story of a man's last chance at redemption, and of finding beauty in the most unexpected places.

Cassie Beck — Liz (through 11/25/12)
Reyna de Courcy — Ellie
Rebecca Henderson — Liz (from 11/27/12)
Shuler Hensley — Charlie
Tasha Lawrence — Mary
Cory Michael Smith — Elder Thomas

Scenic Design: Mimi Lien
Costume Design: Jessica Pabst
Lighting Design: Jane Cox
Sound Desgin: Fitz Patton
Production Stage Manager: Alaina Taylor

Playwrights Horizons’ 2012/2013 season productions are generously supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Whale has received generous support from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and the Jerome Foundation.

Photos of (1) Tasha Lawrence, Cory Michael Smith, Cassie Beck, and Shuler Hensley; (2) Tasha Lawrence and Shuler Hensley; (3) Cory Michael Smith and Reyna de Courcy; and (4) Shuler Hensley and Cassie Beck by Joan Marcus.


More Reviews


Adam Greenfield and Samuel D. Hunter

A: Can you talk a little bit about the Idaho you grew up in? S: Yeah. I mean it bears less and less resemblance to the plays that I’m writing as I continue to write them. I mean they’re obviously set in Idaho, but there’s nothing that’s really quintessentially Idahoan about most of the plays. Like, there are some references that, sure, are Idahoan, but I think the plays actually are trying to be sort of non-regional, in a way. They could be anywhere in America.

Playwrights' Perspectives

Samuel D. Hunter on "The Whale"

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.


Tim Sanford on "The Whale"

"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."


The American Voice: Your Own Private Idaho

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:


Backstory: The Mormon Moment

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.