From Page to Stage: "Moby-Dick: Then and Now" featuring Ricardo Pitts-Wiley and Mixed Magic Theatre

Visions and Voices

Join us for a staged reading of Moby Dick: Then and Now. Alba, a young woman in urban America, is determined to avenge the gang-related death of her brother in this contemporary adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic novel. The production was inspired by director Ricardo Pitts-Wiley’s work with incarcerated youth.
The fateful voyage of the Pequod and its revenge-obsessed Captain Ahab is reimagined in Moby Dick: Then and Now. Alba, a young woman in contemporary urban America, is hell-bent on avenging the gang-related death of her brother Pip in this adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic American novel. Moby Dick: Then and Now emerged through Ricardo Pitts-Wiley’s work with incarcerated youth at the Rhode Island Training School, a juvenile prison. Pitts-Wiley, an actor, director, playwright and composer with Mixed Magic Theatre, encouraged the youth to read and rewrite this challenging novel in relation to their own realities. The 19th-century whaling trade became the 21st-century drug trade, and the young writers’ creativity inspired the stage production, which remixed Melville’s language with hip hop. Pitts-Wiley’s approach is featured in the new book Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom, co-written by USC professor Henry Jenkins. This staged reading will feature student actors from USC and local high schools. Henry Jenkins will moderate a post-show discussion with Pitts-Wiley and the cast.

About the Speakers:

Henry Jenkins is a Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at USC. Jenkins is the chief advisor to the Annenberg Innovation Lab, where he has been involved in the initiatives relating to children, youth and education; he also serves as principal investigator for Civic Paths, a project in the Annenberg School that is exploring youth and participatory politics. He has edited or authored fifteen books on media and popular culture. Ricardo Pitts-Wiley and Jenkins collaborated on the forthcoming text Reading in a Participatory Culture. Jenkins recently published Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (co-authored with Sam Ford and Joshua Green). (BlogTwitter)

Ricardo Pitts-Wiley is an accomplished actor, director, playwright and composer. He has performed at noted theatres throughout the United States, including the Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Boston; Trinity Repertory Company, Rites and Reason and Perishable Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island; the Old Globe and San Diego Repertory in San Diego; and North Carolina Black Repertory. During the 2009–10 academic year, he was the Martin Luther King Visiting Scholar at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he directed and lectured on Shakespeare and page-to-stage adaptations of classic literature. In 2000, Pitts-Wiley and his wife, Bernadet, formed Mixed Magic Theatre & Cultural Events. For the past decade, the company has strived to bring diverse stories and images to the stage through prose and song, tackling well-known dramas as well as original theatrical productions.

Organized by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Co-sponsored by the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Southern California
  • Allan Hancock Foundation Building
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371