By Jack Schembri
KU’s Actors Creating Theater club is hosting an inclusive performance of “The Great Gatsby” aimed at combating misogynistic stereotypes.
The two student directors, Angel Pena Martinez and Kyra Bernotas, want the play to challenge the white and heteronormative norms of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel. Performances are at Schaeffer’s Little Theater at 7 p.m. on April 28, April 29, and April 30.
“The Great Gatsby” was published in 1925, just five years after women won the basic right to vote. Although none of the characters have changed, the directors have altered their personalities.
“We bring a modern twist to the play by adapting female characters like Mrs. Mckee so they aren’t portrayed as floozy, while trying to transport the audience back to 1922,” Bernotas said.
In the novel, Catherine is unmarried and is only used as a character to shame and flirt with Nick, which the directors say they tried to change in the play.
“Rather than flirting with Nick, Ms. Mckee promotes other women by recounting Myrtle’s struggles instead of just watching the abuse,” said Sarah Lamana, who plays Myrtle.
ACT also sought to diversify the play by casting a person of color in the traditionally white role of Chester Mckee. “Especially with Kutztown being a predominantly white school, I’m really happy to be a woman of color in the cast,” said Ant Fritchman, an Asian American who plays Chester Mckee.
“We stick faithfully to the script while trying to leave any modern interpretation,” said Derek Noll who plays Nick Carroway, “Nick’s character is never overtly (romantically) interested in Gatsby because of the time period, but we’ll describe this possibility as openly as possible without changing anything.
ACT is made up of three men and 12 women, a logistical hurdle overcome by the club’s women playing male roles. The club is mainly run by students, with the help of their advisor, Professor Derek Mace.
This is ACT’s third performance of the year and the first performance without a mask mandate for the public.
In December, ACT sold out Schaeffer Auditorium with a performance of “The Dinner Party”. In February, ACT sold out their performance of “The Addams Family.”
“ACT prides itself on inclusiveness, friendship and above all unbiased opportunity in ALL productions,” said Ericka Csencsits, who plays Jordan Baker on “The Great Gatsby.” “ACT is like family and we treat each other with respect and kindness.”
The cost of tickets for students is $8, while non-students are $10.
Categories: Culture & Leisure