Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 8, 2012

Pleasant Hill Ramblings: Rabert brings Ned Land to life

By Jean Clark
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Many of us, of a certain age, remember the awe and thrill we felt with the science fiction genre of Jules Verne, especially the famous book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Although Disney made it into a movie, the exciting narrative and descriptions of an unimaginable undersea world explored by the technologically advanced submarine were much more vivid in our imaginations. Recently Will Rabert, the Pleasant Hill Monologist, portrayed Ned Land, the harpooner, who with Professor Aronnax find themselves in Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, exploring the bottom of the sea. Although Rabert has given over 300 performances at churches, clubs, schools, libraries, business events, and senior citizen groups, this is the first time he has performed the Ned Land Monologue.

The narrator in the book is actually Professor Aronnax, but because the professor speaks with a French accent, Rabert felt he would give a more realistic portrayal of the Canadian Ned Land. And realistic it was, as the harpooner described the terror he felt at the end of the netting and beam extending from his whaling ship when confronted with what he thought was a gigantic narwhal. A narwhal is a medium sized toothed whale living in the Arctic Ocean that is hunted for its meat and ivory. The long pointed tusk is actually an elongated upper left canine tooth. Although not as large as most whales, it is a predator feeding on flatfish under dense ice. Rabert becomes Ned Land as he describes his terror as this huge creature rams his whaling ship causing it to sink. Ned is thrown clear and clings to the metal vessel that turns out not to be a narwhal, but a submarine. The details of life inside the Nautilus and subsequent adventures of Ned and the professor are described so vividly by Rabert, that it makes one want to reread the book.

Will Rabert, retired United Church of Christ minister, and his wife, Martha, moved to Pleasant Hill in 1997. His Bible interpretative monologues were so well received by his former congregations that he started writing his own monologues. He has presented 36 Bible characters and 12 fictional persons, writing most of their dialogues himself.

Although his Bible characters are based on real persons, he uses his imagination to develop their discourse. He has recently gleaned from the writings of and about two more recent figures to write and present monologues. The first was John Knox, Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation, who brought reform to the church and is considered the founder of the Presbyterian Church. The other notable is the Rev. Robert Hall, a Methodist minister. Called to the ministry in his 50s, Rev. Hall spent his entire 15-year career (1916-1931) in the Cumberland Mountains, often turning down prestigious appointments elsewhere to do so. So devoted to ministry in the Cumberlands and so loved by the mountain people was Robert Hall, that he became known as “Bishop of the Cumberlands.”

Rabert will portray Rev. Hall at the annual meeting of the Methodist Laity of White County this month. He will present Rev. Hall at Fletcher House in Pleasant Hill on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 10 a.m., which is open to the public. Rabert has performed at three Wednesday noon Art Circle Library sessions.

For a list of characters or to have a performance at your church or group, contact Will at, or 248-0021 (cell) or 277-5424 (home). There is no cost as this is a labor of love.



Dr. Franklin Parker of Pleasant Hill was inducted into the West Virginia University's College of Human Resources and Education (WVU-HRE) Hall of Fame in Morgantown, WV on Oct. 5, 2012.