Associate Director, Marc Atkinson, continues his series of dispatches from behind the scenes on The Great Gatsby. Opening night is just around the corner. Book your tickets now.
The observant among you may have noticed a surprise new addition to the familiar ‘Gate’ rooftop sign this week. The great, blue eyes of Doctor T. J. Ekelburg (one of the novel’s most potent symbols) now stare down O’Connell Street from above the theatre, announcing that The Gate is open for the first show of this new season, and that Gatsby is right around the corner…
The eyes are just one of the extraordinary number of changes that have been taken place around the building this week, as our rehearsals move out of the studio and into the venue. Normally when you work on a show at a big production house like The Gate you begin “technical rehearsals” just a few days before the first show, and there is a flurry of excitement as suddenly everything comes together. This process has been entirely different. Due to the nature of the work, the show is being built around our rehearsals, with new elements being added daily. I have been simply astonished at the transformation of every conceivable space in the Gate into the environments of Gatsby’s world. This has resulted in a rather unusual, though tremendously exciting, rehearsal process, the cast dance through the corridor and scenes are rehearsed in dressing rooms while jazz-age costumes are perfected; new mirrors and artwork are hung as the rules of casino card games are learned.
Both glamour and the devastating underside of the American dream of Prosperity has to be alive in any adaptation of Gatsby. While the world of the novel comes alive around us, this third week of rehearsal is all about finding that complexity. The Gate have put together quite an extraordinary group of people to make this all happen. This week we’ve had the absolute pleasure of getting to work with movement director Muirne Bloomer and sound designer Isobel Waller Bridge. There are some pretty breathtaking dance numbers being created for the whole ensemble, but also some poignant, individual moments. Sound design is no small task for a production like this, and Isobel has begun creating the different moods needed for each of the spaces in the production. We’re also making use of our cast’s own musical skills - there are some pretty haunting harmonies emerging, as our attention turns to the darker sides of Fitzgerald’s novel.
In just 10 days, we’ll be welcoming our first test audiences to The Gate. More from me before then…