The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s 16th annual Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates the 160th anniversary of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece with a 25-hour nonstop reading of the book during a weekend of activities and events, January 6 – 8, 2012, including a performance by the critically acclaimed American tenor, Jonathan Boyd. Admission to the marathon is free.
On Friday, January 6 at 5:30 p.m. the weekend kicks off with a ticketed buffet dinner and cash bar in the Jacobs Family Gallery. For tickets to the dinner ($25), call (508) 997-0046 ext. 100.
Dinner will be followed by a free public lecture titled “Moby-Dick in American Popular Culture,” presented by Dr. Timothy Marr, at 7:15 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater. Co-editor of “Ungraspable Phantom: Essays on Moby-Dick,” Professor Marr teaches American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves as an executive member of the Melville Society Cultural Project and is a contributor to the Melville and the Digital Humanities project of the Melville Electronic Library.
On Saturday, January 7 at 10:00 a.m., “Stump the Scholars II,” returns by popular demand – a free program in which the audience is invited to pose questions to Melville Society scholars on all matters Moby-Dick in the Cook Memorial Theater. Patterned after NPR’s popular quiz show, “Wait, wait, don’t tell me,” prizes will be awarded to those who can stump the scholars.
At 11:30 a.m. in the Bourne Building, Melville Society members will read many of the 80 brief Extracts related to whales and whaling, which Melville included before Chapter 1.
At noon, the Moby-Dick Marathon begins with “Call me Ishmael” – the most famous opening line in American literature. With more than 150 scheduled readers, the marathon will continue through the night, ending early Sunday afternoon. All reading slots have been booked. The public is cordially invited to come and go at any time during the marathon, or stay for the entire 25 hours and win a prize.
On Saturday at approximately 1:30 p.m., marathon participants will walk next door to the historic Seamen’s Bethel (est. 1832) – located at 15 Johnny Cake Hill for the reading of Chapters 7, 8, and 9, titled “The Chapel,” The Pulpit,” and “The Sermon” – all three chapters take place in the original “Whaleman’s Chapel.” This segment will feature a performance by Jonathan Boyd, the critically acclaimed American tenor starring in the San Diego Opera’s co-production of Jake Heggie’s “Moby-Dick” a new opera hailed “a triumph” by the Dallas Morning News. Boyd has made recent notable debuts at Opéra de Nice and Opéra de Toulon, and has performed with opera companies throughout the United States. He will sing the hymn from Chapter 9.
Readers and guests are also invited to “Chat with a Melville Scholar” from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Wattles Family Gallery or take a guided tour of the “Imagining Moby!” exhibit with Dr. Robert Wallace, Northern Kentucky University.
Chapter 40, “Midnight, Forecastle” will be performed in the Cook Memorial Theater by members of Culture*Park, a theater and performing arts collaborative.
Three related exhibits during the marathon include, “Imagining Moby!,” “Visualizing Melville” and the 1956 Moby-Dick publicity panels. “Imagining Moby!” showcases the collection of Melville scholar, Dr. Elizabeth A. Schultz, including works by Leonard Baskin, Richard Ellis and Rockwell Kent in the Centre Street Gallery, Level 2. “Visualizing Melville” pairs items from the Museum’s collections with Melville’s vivid text, including “Quakers with a vengeance” and “a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears” in the Changing Gallery, Level 2. The 1956 Moby-Dick publicity panels feature movie memorabilia displayed in the windows of the Research Library.
July 31, Sunday - Noon
to August 1, Monday - Noon
"Twitter is an innovative way for us to share this special event with a global audience," said Museum president Stephen C. White. "Nowhere else does 'Moby-Dick' come alive the way it does on the decks of the Morgan, the sole surviving ship of the fleet that inspired Melville."
A tradition at Mystic Seaport, the "Moby-Dick" Marathon is an uninterrupted reading aloud of all 135 chapters of the work onboard the Charles W. Morgan, the Museum's 1841 whaleship. Visitors, Museum volunteers and staff sign up to take turns reading, except for the first chapter, "Loomings," and the Epilogue, which are read by an actor playing Melville. The Marathon begins Sunday, July 31, at noon, and concludes shortly before noon, Monday, August 1.
For 2011, Mystic Seaport decided to expand the reach of the experience and will live-tweet the entire Marathon at @MbyDickMarathon. The account will feature a live Ustream video feed of the event, general information, and highlights of the proceedings, as well as contests and polls that relate to chapters in "Moby-Dick."
Museum staff will also tweet on three other Twitter accounts that will be visible on the main account page:
The hashtag for the event is #MDM2011
Those who wish to participate physically can do so as a daytime or overnight visitor. Daytime participation is free with Museum admission. Copies of the novel will be available for those who wish to follow along. Overnight tickets include the rare opportunity to sleep onboard the Morgan. Only registered ticket holders will be allowed to stay aboard after Museum hours.
Tickets are $25 ($23 for Museum members) and include a light breakfast Monday morning. Reservations can be made by calling (860) 572-5322.
For more information, please visit www.mysticseaport.org/mobydick.