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2009 Event Media Release - GATZ

Issued 6 August, 2008

by Elevator Repair Service

“One of those I-WAS-THERE productions… people will talk about for many, many years.” The Bulletin, Philadelphia

Sydney Opera House Adventures in association with Brisbane Powerhouse present Gatz, a verbatim reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby from 15-31 May 2009.

Transforming a literary masterpiece into an intoxicating six-hour theatrical experience—during which every word of the book is spoken—New York theatre mavericks Elevator Repair Service bring the written word vividly to life.

….a  thrillingly theatrical and moving show… New York Times

Gatz takes place in a low rent modern-day office, a beleaguered white-collar employee arrives at work, throws his raincoat on a hat stand and sits behind his desk. As his colleagues arrive, he retrieves an old paperback from his desk, browses though it and starts to read, out loud: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since”.

At first, his co-workers pay him no mind, throwing odd looks as they wonder what he is talking about, but as he continues, his words and gestures acquire a double meaning, referring to the events in the novel and predicting or coinciding with events in the office. His fellow employees morph into Jazz Age denizens of high society New York, re-enacting the book's famously flamboyant parties while interjecting lines of dialogue.

"It's the most sophisticated form of literary adaptation for the stage that I have ever seen, one of the most living, complex stage organism I've ever witnessed. I feel like I lived in that world." David Cote, Time Out, New York

Gatz tells the story of mysterious millionaire James Gatsby and his love affair with the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, who married another man when Gatsby went to serve in World War I. The reader himself begins acting out the role of Nick Carraway, the narrator in the novel, and before you know it, the show shifts from a man reading Gatsby to a performance of Gatsby staged around the man. The story unfolds like a classic Greek tragedy, with Nick as the cynical observer and bystander.

"…a revelatory and exuberant experience." Variety

Over the past three years, Gatz has received enormous critical acclaim at festivals across Europe and the United States. Unlike other stage adaptations of novels, this production preserves something you rarely see onstage - the novelist’s voice.

This idiosyncratic style wouldn’t work for every novel, but the combination of the book’s prominent narrator (who knows the entire book by heart), evocative prose and relative brevity are what make Gatz such a distinctive experience. The New York Times Magazine called it “a love letter to the book that also makes a convincing argument for the dramatic power of the written word”.

"A (re)reading full of humour you should absolutely treat yourself to."  Le Soir

The role of Daisy Buchanan will be played by Australian actress, Lucy Taylor who joined Elevator Repair Service when she moved to New York two years ago; Nick Carraway is played by Scott Shepherd, Gatsby by Jim Fletcher and Gatsby’s father, Henry C. Gatsby by Ross Fletcher, the real life father of Jim Fletcher.

Elevator Repair Service is a New York based theater ensemble who have garnered extraordinary acclaim a festivals across the United States and Europe. Founded by Director, John Collins and a group of actors in 1991, the company has produced a body of influential and critically acclaimed work built around a broad range of subject matter and literary forms. They create their performances through extended periods of collaboration and draw inspiration from novels, non-fiction writings, films, plays, television programs, and various other media. Elevator Repair Service has cultivated a loyal following receiving frequent high praise in the New York, national and international press. New York Times Magazine has called Elevator Repair Service “the best experimental theater group in town,” and New York Newsday called the group’s work “wacko enough to be truly inspired.”

Actor, Scott Shepherd - role of narrator/Nick Carraway, has received sky-high praise from critics around the world for his role in Gatz. His fluid, compelling voice made one Dutch critic say that seeing the show was “intoxicating to listen to Fitzgerald’s elegant prose hour after hour, as if it were a music of words.” Having spent immeasurable hours reading the novel out loud for this production, he has committed the entire novel—every “and,” “he said,” and “the”—to memory. However, this is not the only summit Shepherd has reached in acting—in 1994 he starred in a two-and-a-half hour version of Macbeth in which he played all roles, and as a college student he memorized every word of Hamlet while producing and performing in a student production at Brown University.

The presentation of Gatz coincides with the 2009 Sydney Writers Festival. Gatz will be a major event of the festival and members of Elevator Repair Service will be guest speakers.

Gatz  will be presented at Brisbane Powerhouse 7 – 10 May, 2009

Season Details
Dates: 15 -31 May 09
Tickets: Preview: $57   Weds: Adult $60/Conc $50   Normal: Adult $72/Conc $62
*Meal package available – see web for details
Venue: Playhouse
Bookings: 02 9250 7777 /

Sydney Opera House Adventures Media Partners: Signwave, SBS Corporate, Foxtel


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