By Jack Schembri  

KU’s Actors Creating Theater club is putting on an inclusive performance of the “The Great Gatsby” geared toward combatting misogynistic stereotypes.  

The two student directors, Angel Pena Martinez and Kyra Bernotas, want the play to challenge the white, heteronormative standards in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel. The performances are at Schaeffer’s Little Theater at 7 p.m. on April 28, April 29, and April 30.  

ACT’s first time in wardrobe and makeup before the show
Credit: Jack Schembri

“The Great Gatsby” was published in 1925, only five years after women got the basic right to vote. Although none of the characters have changed, the directors have altered their personas.  

“We are bringing a modern twist to the play by adapting the female characters like Mrs. Mckee to not be portrayed as floozy, while still trying to transport the audience to 1922,” said Bernotas. 

In the novel, Catherine is not married and is only used as a character who is slut-shamed and flirts with Nick, something the directors say they tried to change in the play.  

“Rather than flirting with Nick, Mrs. Mckee is promoting other women by narrating the struggles of Myrtle instead of just watching the abuse,” said Sarah Lamana, who plays Myrtle.  

ACT has also sought to make the play more diverse, casting a person of color in the traditionally white role of Chester Mckee. “Especially with Kutztown being a predominantly white school, I am really glad to be a woman of color in the cast,” said Ant Fritchman an Asian American woman who plays Chester Mckee.   

“We are faithfully keeping to the script while also trying to leave any modern interpretation,” said Derek Noll who plays Nick Carroway, “Nick’s character is never openly (romantically) interested in Gatsby because of the time period, but we will portray that possibility as openly as we can without changing anything.” 

ACT is composed of three men and 12 women, a logistical obstacle overcome by the women of the club playing male roles. The club is primarily run by students, with the aid of their advisor, Professor Derek Mace.  

This is ACT’s third performance of the year and the first performance without the mask mandate for the audience. 

In December, ACT sold out Schaeffer Auditorium with a performance of “The Dinner Party.” In February, ACT sold out their performance of “The Addams Family.”  

“ACT prides itself on inclusivity, friendship and above all, unbiased opportunities in ALL productions,” said Ericka Csencsits, who plays Jordan Baker in “The Great Gatsby.” “ACT is like a family and we treat each other with respect and kindness.”  

The cost of tickets for students is $8, while non-students are $10.  


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