I’m a slow reader, so I’m actually surprised that Elevator Repair Service’s Gatz – which everybody knows by now includes a complete reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – is only about 7 hours long, not counting a dinner break. I now wish that ERS would illuminate every great piece of American literature for me.
Yes, I was tired by the end. I can only imagine how tired Scott Shephard (Nick) was, or Ben Williams, who was also onstage almost the entire duration of the show. Unlike Shepard though, Williams had to sit in one spot most of the time (like us), run the excellently designed sound and, I believe, lighting cues, and play a variety of roles one doesn’t recall from the book but contribute enormously to the production’s sense of humor. What’s more, Williams seems to have been assigned the job of carrying characters offstage one by one towards the end of the play. Oh but it didn’t seem laborious at all!
On the contrary, I got the distinct impression that everyone in this production was having the time of their lives – and just living their lives, in a very extraordinary and inspiring way. Setting the action in a Dilbert-esque office was brilliant. Not only did the set contrast the main character’s simple existence with that of Gatsby, but also underlined how drab our own day-to-day lives can be…without art, without Fitzgerald, without ERS, without TBA.
Yeah, I’m already mourning the end of the festival and the return to a far less extraordinary life. But I’m inspired. As several fellow TBA-goers commiserated with me, it’s good to be left wanting more. I couldn’t take any more at 11:10pm last night when Gatz was finished, and I missed Ten Tiny Dances. What did I miss? Tell me what you thought.
My head is still spinning from Gatz. I want to read the book again, but I don’t want to see the movie again. I couldn’t help but have flashes of Robert Redford in the movie we watched in my high school English class. I remembered a quiz question – we were tested on reading the book before we got to see the film, don’t worry. It was “which famous movie actress took her first name from the pages of The Great Gatsby?” Should I tell you? Or should we form a book club of our own? I don’t think even the greatest high school English teacher, the sexiest movie star or the hippest book club could do what ERS has done to shed a brilliant light on an American “classic”.
I will never read a book in the same way again.
Hand2Mouth forever changed the way I hear American music. ERS made me REALLY hear Fitzgerald’s words. And I want more!! I want to listen to more music, read more books, see more art – brings to mind the resolutions the young Gatsby inscribed inside the back cover of his own paperback book.
I will rally today for The Affair at the Jupiter, make my way to Reed College and Corberry Press in the coming days, and keep checking back here to read your thoughts and ideas about time-based art. I’m grateful to PICA for letting us come down easy, so that I don’t have to go cold turkey. But I am a little upset too. If I had just stayed home, I might not have been reminded of how bland life can be without time-based art. Thanks a lot.
Posted by Nancy Elli