“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.”
Nick Carraway utters these memorable opening lines from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. These same words open The Great Gatsby Immersive Theatre production in London.
The AP Language and Composition classes (AP Lang) had the delight of experiencing Fitzgerald’s literature come to life on Thursday, February 9, with a trip to London's West End. “It was an unforgettable experience — the music, the lighting, and the passion was thrilling. It allowed me to truly understand the deeper message behind the book,” Grade 11 student Sophie said.
The students enjoyed dinner in London before heading to the theatre. The production kept them on their feet as they were selectively invited to interact with the characters in conversation. Some were taken to "secret" rooms while others were pulled into a library in Gatsby’s mansion. “I loved seeing Myrtle and George's love story develop, seeing a new perspective that is not focused on in the book. Myrtle took me to another room to talk about how George treated her, and this pulled me further into the immersive show," explained Grade 10 student Eva.
The complexity of the characterization was enhanced by this live literary lesson. “The actors were incredibly interactive - I felt like I was best friends with Daisy!” enthused Stella (Grade 11). Grade 10 student Laura added, “I loved going to the Gatsby Immersive, especially when the actors interacted with you one on one, such as when Myrtle pulled me aside to talk about her personal problems. By knowing the story and having analyzed it before, I got to enjoy the theater experience much more.”
The literary lesson was enriched with an authentic feel of the book’s 1920s setting. “I loved seeing the characters from the book come to life, the actors stayed in character so well and it felt as though I was at a roaring 20's party,” Grade 11 student Davis said.
The ability to cross the third wall was a valuable learning lesson for students who will write a Question 3 argument essay on the experience. "I loved how I was able to talk to the actors and become one within the play!" Santiago (Grade 11) said. This essay will challenge students to create an evidence-based argument that evaluates The Great Gatsby Immersive production supported by their analysis of the performance.
Literature, learning, and AP essays aside, what student does not enjoy the chance to go to a party on a school night! This sentiment was echoed by Grade 11 student Kunal, who said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, it really felt as if I was at one of Gatsby’s parties in the 1920s!” Ella (Grade 11) felt the same, "My favourite part of the experience was Gatsby's party – the energy in the room was overflowing and I really felt like I was actually attending one with all the dancing, singing, and excitement.”