The Great Gatsby lands in the centre of York and Sheffield – and you’re invited. Created by The Guild of Misrule in partnership with Theatre Deli, York Theatre Royal and supported by Sheffield Theatres.
“The pleasure would be entirely mine if you might attend my little party this evening.” Jay Gatsby
An ‘extraordinary piece of immersive theatre’ (The Stage) is set to hit two Northern cities this Christmas.
In 2015, after running the award nominated pop up venue The Fleeting Arms in York, The Guild of Misrule created a free-form immersive production of The Great Gatsby. Now, one year on, the company is working with York Theatre Royal and Theatre Delicatessen to stage the installation based production in not one, but two cities…at the same time.
The Great Gatsby will play simultaneously in Sheffield and York, firmly setting Yorkshire as a go to destination for contemporary and exhilarating performance. The production sees audiences plunged deep in to the world of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal jazz age tale. Performed across a myriad of bars, boutiques and bedrooms, audiences should expect nights full of red hot jazz, bootleg liquor and more than a little scandal and they chase, follow and infiltrate one of Gatsby’s infamous parties.
Some familiar faces will return to the York production, this year installed at the John Cooper Studio at 41 Monkgate, produced in association with York Theatre Royal. In Sheffield The Guild partner with Theatre Delicatessen, who have a sprawling home in the heart of the city as part of their Moor Deli, which first set up shop in 2014, with the production being supported by Sheffield Theatres.
The Great Gatsby is directed by Alexander Wright. No stranger to immersive theatre he started his career as co-artistic director of Belt Up Theatre and is currently at the helm of The Flanagan Collective. Alexander says of the production:
“Creating this production of The Great Gatsby is hugely exciting. It was a real passion project last year, creating a show with very little precedent in York. York is home to some wonderful and remarkable theatre, but I think The Great Gatsby was the first bit of free-form immersive work the city has seen. And the reaction was quite amazing.”
In February 2011 Alexander’s company Belt Up Theatre featured alongside Theatre Delicatessen in The Observer, in a multi-page spread billed as ‘Meet the bright new things of British Theatre’. Alexander continues:
“It feels kind of natural that we should work with Theatre Deli up in The North. We follow some big companies creating amazing work in Sheffield. Show’s like Slung Low’s Camelot: The Shining City and Theatre Deli’s HorrorSouk are a hugely exciting moniker of what we can be pushing to create together in the regions.”
Since its renaissance and rise to the theatre-norm, immersive work has found a home in many London theatres and programmes, but perhaps less so in the regions. But the increased use of empty, temporary and unusual spaces is starting to afford new opportunities that demand a different style of work compared to traditional theatre houses. The Fleeting Arms, The Great Gatsby’s home in 2015, was an empty pub which was due to be sold. In Sheffield, Theatre Deli find their home in an old Woolworth’s building.
The Great Gatsby will see each building transformed in to the world of Jay Gatsby, and 1920’s prohibition America. Audiences might find themselves in a secret board meeting with Gatsby himself; they might wind up giving financial advice to George Wilson as he tries to climb out of the ash heaps; or they might be in Daisy’s bedroom, arranging a secret date with her new lover. The show takes place across a number of spaces, with audience free to choose their route and journey through the show. Encouraged to arrive in 1920s dress, audiences are plunged in to the heart of this tale – a tale of wanting too much and reaching too far.
The Great Gatsby offers a real first for Yorkshire, especially over the festive period, presenting a long running, free form immersive show which combines spectacular set pieces, intimate encounters and countless routes through the 2.5 hours of constant action.
Although the show originated in York, the Sheffield production will be created by local actors, performers, musicians and theatre makers. Sarah Sharp, Theatre Delicatessen’s Sheffield Producer and Programmer said:
“We’re really keen to create a remarkable piece of work which belongs in Sheffield. We don’t want to just bring a show from somewhere else – we want to make something which uses local performers and local industry. So that’s about casting local actors, stocking local gins at the bar, working with local bands for special events. We want to celebrate the huge wealth of diverse talent Sheffield has, and create something really unique over the festive period.”
The two productions will run in parallel and both will end with a spectacular New Year’s Eve party. And after Gatsby, who knows where the next immersive experience will pop up.
“We’ve got some ideas. But that would be telling.”
Says Alexander Wright.
For now audiences are invited to dress up, sample some local gin and dance the night away in this infamous tale of jazz, sex and tragedy.
The Great Gatsby is installed at the John Cooper Studio, 41 Monkgate York between 15 December and 7 January, and Theatre Deli, Sheffield between 1 and 31 December