Now considered a prominent venue for award winning theatre, Culture Project had its humble beginnings in a former piano manufacturing factory on East 91st Street. It then moved to a lumberyard at 45 Bleecker Street which it converted into a two-theater performing arts center with Bombitty of Errors and And God Created Great Whales as its initial attractions. Now Culture Project has officially returned to 45 Bleecker making it its permanent home, and will present And God Created Great Whales, the innovative piece that launched the Culture Project into prominence over a decade ago.
And God Created Great Whales is a haunting musical adventure that delves into the psyche of a composer who is trying to create an opera based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Desperately fighting against a disease that is eating away at his mind, he must rely on a tape recorder to remind him of yesterday’s instructions to himself. Rinde Eckert displays his full creative force in this frenzied, funny, romantic, and moving play.
Conceived by Rinde Eckert, And God Created Great Whales garnered the attention of critics and audiences alike when it premiered at Dance Theatre Workshop in early 2000. The New York Times hailed the piece as “total magic,” while Billboard called it “one of the most strikingly original works to be seen in New York.” After receiving an Obie Award and a Drama Desk nomination, the show was remounted at the 45 Bleecker Street Theatre and produced by Culture Project. And God Created Whales has been seen across the country, including at MassMoCa, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art in Oregon, and Baltimore’s Center Stage. Now, under the original director David Schweizer, and performed by Nora Cole and Rinde Eckert, And God Created Whales returns to its origins to thrill New York audiences once more.
Rinde Eckert (Composer, Writer, Sound Designer, Nathan) and his work have been produced off-Broadway and at major venues and festivals throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Off-Broadway: ORPHEUS X (Theatre for a New Audience), HORIZON (New York Theatre Workshop – Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk nominations), AND GOD CREATED GREAT WHALES (The Foundry Theatre - Obie Award for Best Performance, Drama Desk nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience), AN IDIOT DIVINE (The Culture Project), ROMEO SIERRA TANGO (New York Shakespeare Festival). Regional theater: HIGHWAY ULYSSES (Eliot Norton Award) and ORPHEUS X (2007 Finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Drama - both American Repertory Theatre commissions), RAVENSHEAD (Berkeley Repertory Theater). Touring: HORIZON, AN IDIOT DIVINE, THE GARDENING OF THOMAS D. Collaborations: SLOW FIRE, Pioneer, Power Failure, SOUND STAGE, (Paul Dresher, Music), SLIDE, RAVENSHEAD, DREAM HOUSE (Steve Mackey, Music), SANDHILLS REUNION (Jerry Granelli, Music), WOMAN, WINDOW, SQUARE (The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company - Isadora Duncan Award). Radio Shows: Shoot the Moving Things and Four Songs Lost in a Wall. Rinde Eckert has been honored to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Marc Blitzstein Award, and the Alpert Award in the Arts for Theatre.
Nora Cole (Olivia) also originated the role of The Bride in Rinde Eckert’s Highway Ulysses at A.R.T. Outstanding credits include work with George C. Wolfe in Caroline or Change(Royal National Theatre), Jelly’s Last Jam (opposite Gregory Hines/National Tour opposite Maurice Hines), and On the Town. Regional Theatre: Fences (GEVA), Doubt(Milwaukee Rep), Jacques Brel is Alive and Well(Santa Fe Stages - David Schweizer, Dir.), THE COLORED MUSEUM (Hartford Stage), THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME (Second Stage), JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE (Studio Arena), AVENUE X and Coretta Scott King in I HAVE A DREAM. Solo shows: VOICES OF THE SPIRITS IN MY SOUL and OLIVIA'S OPUS, a multi-media ode to adolescence. For 15+ years a company member of Vinnette Carroll's Urban Arts Corp (NYC) and repertory company (Ft. Lauderdale). Outstanding performances included MEDEA (title role), YOUR ARMS TOO SHORT TO BOX WITH GOD (Singing Mary - Broadway, National and European productions), and WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER I'LL SKATE (Kennedy Center). Ms. Cole is an adjunct director and acting coach at Eastern Connecticut State University, and a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute of Chicago. She has received the Women in Music Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville, a Spencer Cherashore Fund Individual Artist Grant and is an alumna of the Hedgebrook Women Writers Retreat.