The Great Gatsby and A Great Night

If you haven’t read The Third Policeman you absolutely should. It proposes an idea that you become a percentage of your loves, the man of the text literally is 80% bicycle because he loves his bike so much. I have a fabulous imagination so in my mind he has actual handlebars for his moustache and his ears are bells. I like not only the image but also the theory, you become what you love. It’s made me reflect what I would manifest as if I transformed into my passions. Dance obviously forms a big part of that but I’m a teacher and you only stay in the profession if you love it. I freaking adore my job.

Earlier this month an excellent friend alerted me to the immersive theatre performance of The Great Gatsby happening in York. There was just enough time to turn it around to be a college trip and so we went.

I had tried to prepare my students as best I could, a lot of them have difficult backgrounds and haven’t left the area before let alone been to the theatre! Some of them were particularly nervous but oh how my heart swelled with pure pride when they arrived at college in full 1920s gear.

I have no issue with dressing up but this is not something my students see in my professional role so it was nice to be able to show them that actually their teacher doesn’t sleep in the store cupboard and is prepared to take risks too. This is me, dressed as a boy because let’s face it, who doesn’t want to wear a bow tie and lipstick?

We took the 2+ hour coach trip north and immersed ourselves in our immersive experience. The moment you arrive you are in a 1920s gin bar. Does life get more perfect? Yes, yes it does. The dividing curtain drops and you’re through to one of Gatsby’s parties where you are all invited to dance the night away.

It was sensational.

The student participation, the venue, the actors, just awesome. Each actor took you to a different part of the mansion to experience a different part of the story. At first my teacher head was spinning as I lost sight of my students being whizzed to far flung parts of the building, what about the risk assessments and who was supervising?? But then, as one of the small groups came back, moving quickly past me, a girl bellowed in my direction and I quote “this is f*cking awesome!” She quickly got swept into another part of the story. So I relaxed into it.

At intermission, we danced. I saw my students practicing their Charleston and mixing with other members of the public. People they had never met before and they were dancing. This small group of teenagers from an underprivileged area crippled with social anxieties and often poverty were dressed up in 1920s costume and were dancing. And so I danced with them.

I won’t ever forget that moment. Nor shall I forget how the coach home was alive with their experiences. It’s an excellent book, The Great Gatsby, it’s even better to live.

I wonder if I’m more pages of a book or dance shoes?

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