The Pulitzer Prize-winning DL Coburn play stars Carol Davenport and Alan Huisman.
Whoever said growing old is not for wimps might have had the acerbic dialog of DL Coburn’s The Gin Game in mind. With each serve and volley from the two-person cast members, the gamesmanship is upped as the baiting escalates between Fonsey (Carol Davenport, Dover, NH) and Dorsey (Alan Huisman, Rye, NH) as each try to prove their mettle in life and in Gin Rummy.
DL Coburn’s The Gin Game will run August 9 through August 19 (Thu-Sat @ 8pm and Sun @ 3pm) at the Firehouse Center for the Arts (Market Square, Newburyport). Tickets are $22 for Adults, $20 for Students/Seniors, and $19 for Members and are on sale now. Purchase them at the Box Office (12N-5P, Wed-Sun), by telephone 978/462-7336 or online at wwww.firehouse.org. Directed by Tim Diering (I Fall for You by Mike Kimball, Shirley Valentine by Willie Russell, The Fantasticks by Jones and Schmidt and Cannibals by R.J. Colleary), with set designed by David Stawasz (Proof by David Auburn).
The Gin Game is a two-act, four-scene play about Fonsia Dorsey, a woman in her senior years, who is disheartened by her recent move to a “home for the aged.” She is slowly cajoled out of her disconsolation by the gruff charm of Weller Martin as he persuades Fonsia to play a series of gin games on the home’s sunlit porch. Weller has “one of the most advanced cases of old-age in the history of medical science” and Fonsia has chronic diabetes that requires more care than her son, who lives in Denver, can give her. Their mutual need for solace and comfort seemingly draws the two closer as they discuss issues such as society, money, family, and the old-folks home where they live — all while playing endless games of cards. Fonsia has never played Gin Rummy before so Weller teaches her. To Weller’s consternation, Fonsia has an immediate streak of beginner’s luck which changes the dynamic of their relationship considerably. The amiability soon gives way to Weller’s pent-up rage, thanks to Fonsia’s subtle needling, and ultimately emotions build to a terrible confrontation.
In September 1976 The Gin Game opened in a 56-seat Hollywood theater before moving to New Haven the following year. After opening on Broadway October 6, 1977 it ran for 516 performances before touring and playing to sold-out houses around the country. The play has since had productions in virtually every country of the western world. In 1978 The Gin Game was nominated for four Tonys and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Again in 1997 The Gin Game was nominated for a Tony award, this time for Best Production of a Revival starring Charles Durning and Julie Harris.
When DL Coburn read the initial favorable reviews of his play back in 1976, he was shocked, even angered, to learn that audience members laughed. He had written this play to be a tragedy — a tragedy of the human condition that inflicts all of us. Yet, the human condition is both tragic and humorous: “”We laugh with pity at the vanity of the human will”" says Coburn as he quotes Gustave Flaubert, “that is why we laugh at The Gin Game. It is the human will that is funny. I simply stayed with the truth of my characters, life supplied the humor.”
In this award-winning play “The card game is a metaphor for fate and how the events of life are dealt to us. We have to play them as they come our way,” explains the playwright. It’s a game we can all appreciate.
About the director: Tim Diering has been a familiar face at the Firehouse Center for the Arts over the past several years. Recently Tim has mounted and directed such popular Firehouse shows as I Fall for You by Mike Kimball, Shirley Valentine by Willie Russell, The Fantasticks by Jones and Schmidt and Cannibals by R.J. Colleary. This past spring he directed Jack Rushton’s short play Screaming Jesus as part of the 18th Annual 15-Minute Play Festival at the American Globe Theater in New York City. He has also directed numerous plays for the annual New Works Festival, Random Acts, and the North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative, The Actors Studio of Newburyport, The Players Ring in Portsmouth NH, the Ramapo Shakespeare Festival in NJ, The New Jersey Theatre Forum, and New Horizons Productions. Currently Diering is the Artistic Director of Right Now Productions.
About the Actors: Carol Davenport is a long-time member of Garrison Players, where she has acted, directed, done musical direction, and designed sets and costumes. She has also appeared at Hackmatack Repertory Theatre, Hackmatack Playhouse, the Mill Pond Center, Players Ring, New London Barn Playhouse, Cortland Repertory Theatre, Cortland, NY, and The Edwin Booth. Her acting credits include roles in over a hundred productions, ranging from Little Mary Sunshine to Lady Macbeth. In recent years Carol has become a favorite of the audiences of ACT ONE’s Festival of Fun in Portsmouth, NH, playing Marjorie in The Porch, Emma in Over the River & Through the Woods, and most recently starring as Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst. Last summer she appeared with Terry Blanchard in the heartwarming and poignant Love Letters by A.R. Gurney at the Firehouse. Carol has received Best Actress nominations from NH Theatre Association and Spotlight for her performances in The Madwoman of Chaillot, Over the River & Through the Woods, The Pain and the Itch, and The Belle of Amherst.
Alan Huisman, a native of Iowa, is now a New England transplant living in Rye, New Hampshire, and earning his keep as a developmental editor for Heinemann (a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
He has acted and directed in northern New England for the past twelve years and has performed five roles at the Firehouse Theater, most recently as George in A Book of Snow by Joshua Faigen. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature, a master’s degree in theater (with additional postgraduate classes in creative writing), and currently studies with Marc Clopton at the Actors’ Studio
*produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc
WHAT: The Gin Game by DL Coburn
WHEN: Thu-Sat, August 9-11 and 16-18 @ 8pm
Sun, August 12 and 19 @ 3pmFriday, July 6 at 8pm
WHERE: Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport, MA
TICKETS: $22 Adults, $20 Students/Seniors, $19 Members Opening Night Special August 9 only: all seats $13
For more info please call the Box Office at 978/462-7336 or visit online at www.firehouse.org
About The Firehouse Center for the Arts- The Firehouse Center for the Arts is member-based organization located on the waterfront in Newburyport, with a 195-seat theater. The Firehouse offers “arts inspired experiences” including film, dance, theatre, concerts, children’s programming, a new works festival, and an art gallery which exhibits works by local and international artists. The Firehouse is handicap accessible.