The great American Novel in one act
ROCKPORT — The Great Gatsby was previewed at Camden Hills Regional High School’s Strom Auditorium Wednesday night. Reduced to a one act play, it will be the high school’s drama department’s entry in the one act competition this weekend at Ocean Side High School in Rockland.
The 82nd 2013 Maine Drama Festival (The “One Acts” as they are usually referred to) will involve high schools from across the state Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9, with regional competitions culminating in a state final.
The stage begins empty. Competitors have five minutes to set the stage and 45 minutes to present their one act play, they must then tear down the set to make way for the next school.
The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. It is generally considered the best book on the era of the roaring twenties following World War I. It is considered one of the greatest works of American Literature.
Dramatic Advisor Margaux DePue said they had to pare down the stage play into a one act.
“Yes, it was hard to do," she said. "I was a real challenge, but we had help from the playwright Simon Levitt. We’ve been talking about doing The Great Gatsby for a year, she said. “I mean it’s 20s era costumes and who doesn’t know the story.”
Just in case you’re wondering, the following is the way The Great Gatsby got pared down. And yes, I used Cliff Notes to do it, just in case you’re wondering.
Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn about the bond business. Nick’s next-door neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night.
Nick, who was educated at Yale, has social connections in East Egg, a fashionable area of Long Island home to the established upper class. Nick drives out to East Egg one evening for dinner with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom. Daisy and Tom introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, a beautiful, cynical young woman with whom Nick begins a romantic relationship. Nick also learns about Daisy and Tom’s marriage.
Jordan tells him that Tom has a lover, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the valley of ashes, between West Egg and New York City.
As the summer progresses, Nick eventually garners an invitation to one of Gatsby’s legendary parties. He encounters Jordan Baker at the party, and they meet Gatsby himself, who calls everyone “old sport.”
Gatsby speaks to Jordan alone. Gatsby tells Jordan that he knew Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is deeply in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, across the bay from his mansion. Gatsby now wants Nick to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy, but he is afraid that Daisy will refuse to see him if she knows that he still loves her.
Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reestablish their connection. Their love rekindled, they begin an affair.
Tom grows increasingly suspicious of his wife’s relationship with Gatsby. Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with Daisey. Though Tom is himself involved in an extramarital affair, he is deeply outraged by the thought that his wife could be unfaithful to him. Tom asserts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal—his fortune comes from bootlegging alcohol and other illegal activities.
When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom’s lover. Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy was driving the car when it struck Myrtle, but that Gatsby intends to take the blame.
The next day, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. George, who has leapt to the conclusion that the driver of the car that killed Myrtle must have been her lover, finds Gatsby at his mansion and shoots him dead. He then fatally shoots himself.
Though Gatsby’s power to transform his dreams into reality is what makes him “great,” Nick reflects that the era of dreaming — both Gatsby’s dream and the American dream — is over.
PePue is in her second year of teaching at Camden Hill. She teaches English.
“I love it,” she said, excitedly. “I’ve done drama since I was a junior in high school. I did some summer directing at the Waterville Opera House, but this is my first real directing endeavor.”
DePue is from Farmington and graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington. Camden Hills is her first teaching job.
Tom Heath, the technical director for the one act, said there was a lot in freshman talent involved.
“We’re really excited about our actors," he said. "We are building and we get them for three more years. We have a lot of strong, upcoming talent.”
Director: Duncan Hill; Dramatic Advisor: Margaux DePue; Technical Advisor: Tom Heath; Choreography: Katie Thompson.
Set Construction and crew: Matt Ackley, Chris Barrows, Mark Belley, Violet Bemis, Hannah Corney, Meg Dowd, Matt Eaton, Trevor Fowles, Hannah Holte, Gavyn Powers, Kate Sensenig, Zach Stern, Sara Wnadell, Hannah Wells, Alex Winn and Chase Winn.
Costume Coordinator: Savannah Berryman-Moore; Costumes: Anna Gamble, Emily Grotz, Jenna Hill, Hope Orsmond, Kate Rich, Emma Silverton and Kate Vannorsdall.
Hair and Make-Up Advosor: Terri Harper; Hair and Make-up: Trevor Fowles, Zoe Grant, Hannah Holte, Frannie Howard-Girard, Carmen Lamb, Emilie Oesterlin, Caitlin Pieri, Lindsey Puls, Alice Richardson, Beth Vix, Hannah Wells and Jenna Wells.
Lighting Design: Marc Belley and Chase Winn; Lighting Operation: Chase Winn; Follow Spot: Alex Winn; Sound: Aiden Lammert.
Live Music: Duncan Hall, Orion Krause and Alex Wilder.