Theater By the Book returns with ‘The Gin Game’
KNOW & GO
WHO: Sierra Stages and Miners Foundry Cultural Center present Theater By the Book: Stage Kiss
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 16. Doors 7p.m., Show 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City
TICKETS: $10 Suggested Donation, Tickets are available online at www.minersfoundry.org, by phone 530-265-5040 or in person at the Miners Foundry, or at the door
On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Theater By the Book returns with “The Gin Game,” a play full of humor, spirit and a just a touch of warfare. Co-presented by Sierra Stages and the Miners Foundry, Theater By the Book is a series of informal play readings for the community.
Now in its sixth season, Theater By the Book is an opportunity for local theatre artists and audiences to enjoy material that would otherwise be unavailable. The beauty of the reading format is that it offers the text — the playwright’s words — but without making the demands that is routinely necessary for a full production. All that is needed for a reading is a director, a cast of actors whose rehearsal commitment is quite brief, and the audience’s imagination.
Written by D.L. Coburn and directed by Sara Noah, The Gin Game is a two-person tragicomedy in two acts that uses a card game as a metaphor for life. D. L. Coburn conceived of the play first as a conflict between a man and a woman and strictly as a tragedy. He felt that the simplicity of two people and a card game could have more impact because of its concentrated format. The setting of the retirement home was not conceived until later in the development of the story, and the comedy worked its way in unintentionally through the wit of the characters. Coburn used a few models from his own life for each of the characters and was inspired by the Russian poet Aleksander Pushkin’s “Elegy,” which speaks to the bittersweet nature of growing old.
The Gin Game was Coburn’s first attempt at writing a play and premiered in 1976. He happened to know a director, who had the play produced in September of 1976 by American Theatre Arts in a very small theater in Los Angeles. Variety carried a review of the play that caught the attention of the Actors Theatre of Louisville. In their subsequent production, the play was introduced to the actor Hume Cronyn, who instantly wanted to act in the play and sent it to the noted director Mike Nichols. Remarkably, on Oct. 6, 1977, only thirteen months after its debut, The Gin Game opened on Broadway. The play was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1978 and was nominated for four Tony Awards: Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director. Jessica Tandy won for her portrayal of Fonsia. The play ran for 516 performances on Broadway in its first production and then went on tour around the country with its stars, Tandy and Cronyn.
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