Olga Neuwirth The Outcast
hommage à Herman Melville
In The Outcast by Olga Neuwirth, inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the colorful sea is tainted by blood – human or animal. It is a utopia, an open, limitless space, nevertheless witnessing the disasters of our time: the tireless pursuit of process and the climate crisis.
In a blend of theater, music, and videos, featuring a unique twist on action and a stylistic approach to location and objects, The Outcastrevisits Moby Dick (1851). The audience witnesses an elderly Melville’s monologues on writing, nature, destiny, and God. Then, charismatic captain Ahab takes the Pequod crew on his obsessive, destructive search for the white whale. The crew, at first committed to equality, gets slowly but surely alienated, a symbol for a still hesitant democracy. Welcoming the unknown, compassion, and hope resonate across the voices of individual members and the children’s choir. Injustice, discrimination, greed, and the shameless exploitation of natural resources feed into this chronicle of violence and grief, which ultimately claims everyone’s life except Ishmael’s, the narrator and Melville’s alter ego. Olga Neuwirth replaced this misanthropist man with a woman, Ishmaela—women were banned from working on ships in the 19th century. This ambivalence, this patchwork, are a convincing reflection of a fascinating novel.