In a press release from Randall Hartzog, Theatre Memphis, Director of Marketing and Communications, he announces that the Donald L. Coburn play, “The Gin Game” will run at the theatre from September 18 – October 4, 2015. The announcement is listed below.
“The Next Stage at Theatre Memphis presents Donald L. Coburn’s The Gin Game, opening September 18 and running until October 4, 2015. Winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize and a Tony nominee for Best Play, The Gin Game tells the story of Fonsia Dorsey, a woman in her twilight years and now residing in a “home for the aged.” Her loneliness is interrupted by the crusty charm of fellow resident Weller Marin who teaches her how to play Gin Rummy. As they seemingly become close over the shuffle of cards, much is revealed about their regret-filled lives. As Fonsia consistently wins every hand, rage and needling escalates and comes to a head in an unsettling confrontation.
The cast features Jo Lynne Palmer (Fonsia Dorsey) and Jim Palmer (Weller Marin) as the two senior characters thrown together by circumstance and who deal with isolation, loneliness and aging. Married in real life, the Palmers are a unique performing couple who have appeared in many a show separately … and many a show together … “around 15,” according to them.
Playing against one another in the two-person show, The Gin Game, has some noted benefits like being able to run lines at the drop of a hat. But neither seem to take the characters home though saying that they have learned to be professional about their time together on stage and are, according to Jo Lynne, “too saavy to ever do that in any play we’ve ever done together.” They do bring some of themselves and the marriage to the relationship on stage though. Jo Lynne says “Empathy and love and comforting respect.” Laughingly quoting from the script she also includes, “ …rigid, self-righteous viciousness.” Jim adds, “They (Fonsia and Weller) are both flawed humans, as we all are. I probably bring the worst of my characteristics to the show and probably a few good ones, I hope. I can relate to Weller as an actor because as an actor I always try to find the part of myself that is already the character.”
Director Marler Stone speaks of the Palmers as being “professional in every sense of the word. Having been together 40 years, they know each other so well and are able, under very stressful situations during rehearsals, to work together. There is such a sweetness between them,” contrary to the characters themselves. Stone had never read the play when he was asked to direct it but had always thought it was one that he might tackle at the right time. And once he did read it, “I was stunned,” he says. “It is truly a great play as evidenced by the Pulitzer Prize it garnered in 1978 for Best Drama.”
Theatre Memphis Executive Producer Debbie Litch believes The Gin Game has a message to a contemporary audience in that it highlights some very real situations that seniors, and their relatives, now deal with on a larger scale in today’s society. But what I am most excited about is to see Jim and Jo Lynne work together on one of our stages. I can’t wait to see them go after each other,” she laughs.”
The dates of this show are September 18 – October 4, 2015, with show times on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $25 adults, $15 students with valid ID and youth. They can be purchased online at Theatre Memphis, or at the box office at (901)682-8323. Theatre Memphis in the Next Stage is located at 630 Perkins Ext. in Memphis.
Please support the Theatre Memphis; it supports you! Also, to subscribe to Memphis Performing Arts in the Examiner, click on the subscribe link near the bottom of this page. The articles are absolutely free.