“Gatz” is A New Take On Classic Literary Work

An 8-hour production? That's right. The McCarter Theatre hosts an innovative rendition of "The Great Gatsby."

Gatz is an eight-hour production of F. Scot Fitzgerald's entire novel. Experience the drama at McCarter Theatre in Princeton.
Courtesy of McCarter Theatre/ Elevator Repair Service

Few books on the average high school reading list resonate as far and wide as The Great Gatsby. Beloved for decades, this gem has charmed millions as a book, as a movie (two movies, actually) and with the innovative stage performance, Gatz. The show will be presented by the Manhattan-based Elevator Repair Service ensemble at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton for three performances (February 15-17).

To call Gatz a play in the traditional sense would be misleading—the production will be an 8-hour experience—yes, that’s an 8; it’s not a typo. But, “It’s like time disappears,” assures Aaron Landsman, a cast member and Princeton University lecturer. “A friend told me, the first 20 minutes he was thinking, ‘How will I get through this,’ and then the audience gets invested and when the dinner break comes you’re like, ‘Wow, already!’”

The notably slender novel, F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s most famous work, is dramatized word for word. The play’s framework is built on an office worker, who, while his computer is awaiting repair, is reading The Great Gatsby, first to himself, and then aloud. As his coworkers arrive at the office, they are gradually caught up in the story and take on roles from the book.

“The ERS is a super playful theater company in terms of set and sound design and these elements bring the world of Gatsby alive, really unlocking the imaginative leap for the audience,” says Landsman, who plays George Wilson.

This is the second run of this original work at the McCarter Theatre. Directed by ERS’s John Collins, Landsman explains the authoring of Gatz was essentially a collaborative effort of director and the actors.

Each of the marathon performances has two intermissions and a dinner break.

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