Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Our American Rythyms

"Can't repeat the past...Well of course you can!"
-Jay Gatsby

With the recent flap regarding the Guthrie's The Great Gatsby, versus the Elevator Repair Company's Gatz, it is important to think about the theatrical values of Fitzgerald's novel.

I have never seen a theatrical or filmed version of The Great Gatsby, and I do not really intend to do so anytime soon. My vision of Jay Gatsby relies completely and utterly on Nick Carraway's narration. With this in mind, if I were to see an adaptation, my preference would be most likely to see ERC's Gatz, which is essentially a six hour reading of the text of the novel.

My feeling is basically this: The manifestation of Gatsby as an actor on stage to whom the production points to and says, "this is Jay Gatsby," immediately starts to corrode Fitzgerald's artistic vision.

Jay Gatsby is Ahab, but like failed film and stage versions of Moby Dick his essence is forever in the telling of his novel. Only Ishmael and Nick Carraway can give us the characters of their authors.

Ahab and Emerson, these are our fathers, and Gatsby and Charles Foster Kane are their offspring, and the grandchildren are Blanche Dubois, Willie Loman...Shelley Levene...

August Wilson understood this. Wilson created powerful dramatic representations of the Emersonian spirit being steamrolled by socio-economic forces. Herald Loomis and Levee are some the best characters created by American Dramatists in the last 20 years.

The conclusion of Wilson's ten play cycle about the African American Experience concludes with Radio Golf, which is playing at the Huntington Theatre Company starting in September.

Real random post, but I don't have much time today.

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