by Shelby Ahlborg
When they reach senior year, Cedarville art students begin preparing their final projects, the summation of everything they have learned over their years at Cedarville, whether it be an art piece, recital, or performance. Katie Gilbert, senior theatre major, has chosen to create and perform an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby,’ adapted by Simon Levy which will be 7 pm Friday, March 15th in Alford Auditorium.
The show consists of a nine-person cast, chosen by Gilbert, which is larger than the typical cast for a Senior Theatre Project. Her choice of the show came from mainly two areas: her love of the book, and the challenge the show provided.
“‘The Great Gatsby’ is a huge acting challenge, I think, for everyone involved,” Gilbert said. “And because STP’s are really just combining all the things you’ve learned, and putting them all together, and you have to put on a whole show yourself, I thought that would be a good show to challenge all the different areas. So, like, lighting’s kinda weird, and characters are hard, and it’s so flowy, the directing and staging has been a challenge. I wanted to be able to showcase everything, but also stretch myself, too.”
When actually getting into the logistics of creating the show, the way she wanted her rendition to be done, Gilbert dove deep into the characters, and helped her fellow actors do the same. While ‘Gatsby’ could be done as highly showy and glitzy, highlighting the mood and atmosphere of the 20s, she chose to make it more character and language driven, rather than a spectacle show. She said this came out of a desire to focus more on the underlying themes and characters themselves, rather than the flashiness of the era. The cast spent a whole month just getting together and asking questions about their characters, and figuring out thought processes and relationships. It proved to be extremely valuable, as it helped in blocking, with the cast knowing what their characters would be driven to do, knowing where their psyche was at during that particular point during the show. So, with a lot of table work and character development, and then a week and a half of blocking, the show came together.
Remy Patterson, Gilbert’s director, agreed with Gilbert’s method of high character development, especially when it came to relaying the underlying message of the show.
“There is almost a beauty in the sadness in the way these characters live,” Patterson explained. “Each of them put on this alternate rich persona of false happiness to impress those around them throughout the story. Understanding the depravity is really what drives the message and creates such an impactful ending.”
In the effort to make the performance her interpretation of the story, Gilbert has done her best to steer away from the film version, even though she loves and respects it entirely. However, she is not without inspiration.
“I’ve been doing a lot of reading and stuff lately about the time period, and women in the time period, and it’s been an inspiration for playing Daisy, because she’s a mother, and she’s a wife, and she’s also her own person. And it was in this time period where women were allowed to be their own person, but they were still oppressed. And so, just that story of so many women going through that in the past and telling that story in an honest way…giving them a voice. Because none of that is anything that I’ve ever been through, so I think that I’ve just been inspired by all of the hardships that everyone’s going through.”
After pouring months of work and thought into her final Cedarville performance, Gilbert and her cast have put together a wonderful show that should inspire and entertain those who come to see it.
Shelby Ahlborg is a sophomore theatre major and A&E writer for Cedars. She enjoys drawing, listening to movie scores and writing fiction stories.