The Gimmick

The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival

4 - 13 August 2000
  • Description

Written & performed by Dael Orlandersmith directed by Angus Farquhar


The Gimmick is a multifaceted word – standing for how one gets through life i.e.- “You gotta have a gimmick.” It’s a tool for survival, as well as a shooting-up kit for drugs, a prostitute turning a trick, or in a wider sense something or someone who is a fake. It is a hard word, born out of the intense and gritty experiences of a young girl growing up in Harlem, New York in the sixties and seventies. It is a world without illusions, with little love, maximum intensity – and maximum dreams, being great as Picasso or James Baldwin.

The Gimmick, a one-woman dramatic monologue, premiered at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow and then traveled to the Traverse Theatre for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival attracting 4 star reviews. Dael Orlandersmith’s semi-autobiographical writing is a quite unique fusion of traditional narrative and poetry. Intense repetition build up layers of meaning and emotion, controlled with a virtuoso delicacy and poise. Working closely with the cadences and rhythms of Dael’s voice, sections of the text were digitally transformed building up sequences of sonic intensity, staged within a simple but very effective set built and designed by Ed King using piles of books.

“I associate the festival with growing up. I can vividly recall, during those years, seeing a one-woman show at the Traverse called The Gimmick and the profound effect it had on me. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to write and perform for that stage.” (Lynda Radley, Playwright)


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