Do you have a burning question?  Stay on after the show for a short Q & A with the cast and creators of Ishmael
Post-show Q & A sessions will be held following performances at 6.30pm Tuesday 14 September and 11am Wednesday 15 September.
Duration: 20 minutes

A Dead Puppet Society production
Written by David Morton

A dead earth
A climate refugee
A voyage to the outer solar system

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.

Literary epic Moby Dick reimagined as a contemporary space saga, Ishmael recasts earth’s no-longer-vast oceans with the immensity of space, and the endless possibilities and terrors it holds. Set on a futuristic version of earth which has suffered a catastrophic environmental collapse, the story follows Ishmael (Ellen Bailey), a climate refugee who has been living in a corporation sanctioned camp on the darkened surface of earth. She’s offered a chance of a new life above the clouds, but quickly discovers that this means a perilous voyage to the outer solar system aboard the MV Pequod – a mining ship under the control of the notorious Captain Ahab (Barb Lowing). Once aboard, Ishmael befriends Queequeg (Patrick Jhanur) – the only other crew member and an escaped experiment in artificially intelligent droids. Ishmael eventually falls into the groove of life on board until the crew are confronted by a ruined mining ship and with the trauma of the loss of her brother fresh in her mind, Ahab leads the crew into uncharted space on a quest to either find him alive or avenge him.

In weaving the story to life, this boundary pushing production melds live film making with live action, miniature sets, puppetry and an original score by indie pop musician Bec Sandridge to tell a captivating story about individual hope and collective redemption. The seamless interweaving of live performers, miniature models and camera technology create sweeping visuals. As with most Dead Puppet Society work, the source of the illusion is exposed but Ishmael takes this to an entirely new level – in addition to watching the story, the audience will be watching how it’s made, live in front of their eyes.

Don’t miss the world premiere season of Ishmael as part of Brisbane Festival.

Ishmael is the latest work by the internationally acclaimed Dead Puppet Society (Laser Beak Man, The Wider Earth) who now turn their trademark magic to Herman Melville’s beloved classic Moby Dick.

Download the digital program here (PDF 3MB)

“In terms of technology, the production is on its own planet.” The Australian
“This multimedia, audiovisual extravaganza is clever and compelling and it has (a) killer original music soundtrack by Bec Sandridge.” The Courier-Mail
“(This) theatre piece mixes Moby Dick with Star Wars and The Matrix.” The Australian

Director and Designer David Morton
Creative Producer Nicholas Paine
Associate Director Matt Seery
Composer Bec Sandridge*
Projection Designer Justin Harrison
Sound Designer and Music Supervisor Tony Brumpton
Lighting Designer Christine Felmingham
Co-Designer (props and locations) Jennifer Livingstone
Costume Designer Nathalie Ryner
Dramaturg Louise Gough
Cast List Ellen Bailey, Patrick Jhanur and Barb Lowing

The Ishmael script was commissioned by Dead Puppet Society. The production has been commissioned by Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Dead Puppet Society, and Brisbane Festival.

*All songs are written and recorded by Bec Sandridge, except Supernatural Lies written by Bec Sandridge and Xavier Dunn and Claustrophobia written by Bec Sandridge and Dave Jenkins Jnr. All songs produced by Dave Jenkins Jnr.

Hero artwork by Dean Hanson.



    Approved theatrical smoke, haze effects, strobe lighting and loud noises.


    Recommended for ages 12+.

  • The Safest Way to Buy!

    QTIX is the official ticketing service for QPAC and Ishmael. Selected packages are sold through authorised resellers only. Any tickets purchased through unauthorised sales channels may be seized or cancelled without refund or exchange and the bearer of the ticket may be denied admission. Unauthorised sales channels include Viagogo, eBay and Gumtree. Read more about purchasing tickets online.

Presented by QPAC, Dead Puppet Society, and Brisbane Festival in association with Screen Queensland

Additional support has been provided by Glass Half Full Productions.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.
The Creative Sparks Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to support local arts and culture in Brisbane.
Supported by a Queensland University of Technology Innovation Grant.

Pricing Guide


^Concession: pension, senior card holders and full-time students

A transaction fee of $7.20 applies per transaction. Selected ticket delivery methods may incur an additional charge. The minimum price listed may be available for selected performances only. Please see the event calendar when booking for the available date(s) and time(s) of this performance.


  • Education Notes for Teachers and Students

    Education Notes for Ishmael

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Ellen Bailey

Patrick Jhanur

Barb Lowing