Picking the Play

It can be a challenge to select a play from the thousands published. A few filters helped narrow this search. We wanted a two-hander (two-person) play to make it easier to plan rehearsals, given day job demands. The characters needed to be age appropriate and we wanted those characters to be interesting and substantial.

After some research and reading a dozen or so, “The Gin Game” rose to the top of the list. It fits the basic list and has a nice mix of humor and drama. The show also has a strong pedigree, several runs on Broadway, Tony Awards and overall good recognition.

So, “The Gin Game” it is.

The Characters

The very adult language in the show may be harsh to some ears, but it provides the exclamation points and tension to peel back the layers on the two characters.  Weller Martin is a retired businessman, who finds himself in a run-down nursing home, much to his dismay. Fonsia Dorsey, an elderly woman with nowhere else to go, is in the same situation.  Through the mechanism of a card game, their lives are exposed, showing glimmers of the past, some not so glorious.

As these two try to find their way, we get a picture of the lives of the elderly and those around them. I think this portrait may resonate with those who care for older people, perhaps not in such a dramatic way, but recognizable. 

The set design is representational, meant to just define the space and keep the focus on Weller and Fonsia. It is set on the sun porch of the Bentley Nursing Home and takes place over a couple weeks.

As these two cope with the challenges of aging, through their eyes we see that it is indeed a challenge.

The Cast

I am very proud to have the opportunity to bring Weller Martin to life for the Tree County Players. I have enjoyed a number of stage credits for TCP and a few for BAAC (formerly RAA). This is a bit more of a challenge as there are layers to this person and I trust I can do him justice.

Nancy Worland, a veteran of TCP and other community productions, brings wonderful vision, commitment, and range to Fonsia. She is a pleasure to work with. I love her intensity and she certainly deserves co-director credit for the production. 

The Show

I’d categorize “The Gin Game” as a tragicomedy. There is funny, but character development is the driving force of the show. As it is just two people onstage in a close-in setting, the interactions between them I find to be interesting and thought provoking. We hope the audience can relate to Weller and Fonsia as they find and lose their way on this little journey.

Regardless, Nancy and I are doing our best to find the center of these characters, present them to you and hope you enjoy the ride.

Thanks for your support of the arts in our community.

Bill Blank