Gatsby comes to Savannah State University

The Kennedy Fine Arts Center is jumping since Mr. Jay Gatsby chose to host the beginning of a several weeks long party which started March 9th. While waiting for the theatre doors to open, the audience members were invited to walk the gallery in the fine arts center and drink one or two “mocktails”—one a gin rickey and the other a mint julep (Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favorite).

The lobby was decorated in the quintessential colors of the Roarin’ 20’s—gold, silver, and black—ribbons, suspended fans, and balloons everywhere; each host and hostess decked in flapper dresses and suits. Once the doors opened, audience members were ushered into the theatre to recline in style along with an enthralling group of Gatsby party guests, each dressed to the nines with a drink in hand. The “gin” was poured, the music was hot, and Gatsby party goer “Lara Candelabra” invited the audience to join in on “the Gatsby Shuffle” and the Charleston while waiting for the show to begin.

Another party goer “Madge” described the laissez-faire atmosphere perfectly, declaring when asked what she was doing at the party, “We’re at a Gatsby party, darling, we just ARE.”

Once it was showtime, director and professor at Savannah State David Poole welcomed everyone and announced the rest of 2018’s production line-up. The theme is “Ruptured Romances”, hosting such productions as Big Love, Midwinter Night’s Dream (a winter-themed Midsummer’s Nights Dream), Hello Again, and Anna Christie. The play then began, drawing audience members into the flashy, trashy, yet oh-so-delightful world of Jay Gatsby.

Audience members experienced what life was like in New York for young writer Nick Carraway after he moves in next door to the wealthy millionaire, becoming tangled up in his cousin Daisy’s love interest in Gatsby while balancing his own love life with golfer Jordan Baker. In this fictional tale of love, parties, heartbreak, and confusion, audience members watch as they see just how messy life can truly be. In the concluding monologue, Carraway explains Gatsby’s long-reaching vision for the future and how blinded he was to the present, though ever pressing on in his bleak existence as a melancholy man-about-town,

“He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning--so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Tears were shed as the curtain closed, only to reopen with Gatsby guests pouring out amongst the audience, pulling them back into the lobby for a reception.

Audience member Shakeria Stewart, student at SSU, was moved. She said,  “I thought it was amazing…I shed a little tear…Gatsby’s death with intense.”

Director David Poole stepped aside for an interview, where we were able to ask him about himself, what was upcoming for the Collective Face Theatre Ensemble, as well as gain some perspective into why he chose to produce The Great Gatsby.

The shows continue Sundays, 3 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. The last show will be on March. 31. 

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