Ishmael orbits back to QPAC ahead of regional Queensland tour

Dead Puppet Society and Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) are pleased to announce the return of acclaimed production Ishmael from 19 to 27 May 2023 in the Cremorne Theatre.

A ground-breaking production, Ishmael by David Morton wowed audiences and critics in its world premiere season at QPAC as a hero event of the 2021 Brisbane Festival.

A reimagining of the timeless novel, Moby Dick, the production is the creative vision of the internationally acclaimed Dead Puppet Society (Holding Achilles, The Wider Earth, Laser Beak Man) and melds captivating storytelling with live action, live filmmaking, an original score and boundary-pushing visual theatre.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch:

Dead Puppet Society would ignite their on-stage magic, technological wizardry and bespoke story-telling with the return of Ishmael in Brisbane, before thrilling audiences in Bundaberg, Cairns and Townsville with support through the Palaszczuk Government’s Touring Queensland Fund.

Queensland Government multi-year operational funding gives Dead Puppet Society the certainty to realise their long-term vision, while our touring support means audiences around the State can engage with an exciting new work.

Additional Industry Placement funding has enabled Dead Puppet Society to employ a company manager for the Ishmael tour.

Ms Enoch:

Our investment empowers top performing arts companies like Dead Puppet Society to collaborate and develop new works, and ensures the sector is in a strong position to present high quality Queensland content in the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games when our arts will be showcased on a global stage.

Dead Puppet Society’s Executive Producer Nicholas Paine:

 The company was delighted to return to QPAC with Ishmael, its exclusive production to be staged in Brisbane this year, ahead of a regional Queensland tour.

After making waves at Brisbane Festival in 2021, we couldn’t be more excited to present Ishmael to audiences across Queensland and are thrilled to have a stellar cast joining us.


We thank QPAC for supporting this return season and the Queensland Government for the Touring Queensland funding to enable us to bring this compelling show live to audiences across the state.

Following huge success with the return of The Wider Earth and Holding Achilles at Brisbane and Sydney Festivals, we are also returning Ishmael to prepare it for international touring.

Hailed by critics as a new kind of storytelling (Limelight), Ishmael is a unique and visually compelling theatre experience.

Writer and Director David Morton explained:

The genre-crossing Ishmael plays out like a film on stage, weaving in the elements of miniature sets, puppetry, a trio of live performers and an original score by indie pop musician Bec Sandridge.

On the resource-depleted earth of a not-so-distant future, a young climate refugee named Ishmael is given the chance to build a new life, provided she can survive a voyage to the outer solar system aboard the MV Pequod under the command of the obsessive Captain Ahab.

Three acclaimed actors will take up roles to tell this futuristic story; Ellen Bailey reprises the title role of Ishmael, Barbara Lowing returns as Captain Ahab and direct from playing a leading role of Patroclus in Holding Achilles, Karl Richmond rounds out the cast as Queequeg; an AI droid who has escaped from a laboratory

Dr Morton:

The original Moby Dick centered on humankind’s relationship with the natural world; Ishmael addresses what happens to the human motivators of greed and wealth when we’re in an environment that can no longer sustain them.

Our original decision to recast Ishmael and Captain Ahab – two iconic characters from Western literature canon – as females brought the story into the new millennium. They are both incredibly strong characters who embark on a literal journey of self-discovery, one with challenges and adventures that transcend gender.

Paine adds that:

In contrast to other Dead Puppet Society productions, that feature human or animal puppet figures, Ishmael has built universes and worlds, miniaturised landscapes and lifelike spaceships to convey the epic space story in a unique and captivating way.

“Ishmael is both timeless and contemporary; a relatable story with classic themes of redemption, determination and triumph of the human spirit that was reinvigorated and reimagined for a modern audience.

The Ishmael script was commissioned by Dead Puppet Society, and the production was commissioned by Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Dead Puppet Society and Brisbane Festival in association with Screen Queensland.

The Courier-Mail:

This multimedia, audiovisual extravaganza is clever and compelling, and it has (a) killer original music soundtrack by Bec Sandridge.

The Australian:

This theatre piece mixes Moby Dick with Star Wars and The Matrix.

Season Details

Venue: Cremorne Theatre
Date: 19 to 27 May 2023

Ishmael‘s Regional Queensland Tour Dates:

Venue: Moncrieff Entertainment Centre| Bundaberg
Date: 31 May 2023

Venue: Cairns| Performing Arts Centre
Date: 7 July 2023

Venue: Townsville Civic Theatre| Townsville
Date: 16 Aug 2023

For more information click HERE

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