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The Gin Game - Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy

The Gin Game

D.L. Coburn

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Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy

1m, 1f

ISBN: 9780573609763

This winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama uses a card game as a metaphor for life. 

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Author | Now Playing | Reviews
: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play

Dramatic Comedy

Settings Of Play - An elderly home.


Exterior Set


Adult, Senior


Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Senior Theatre, Reader's Theatre, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


Tony, Pulitzer, From Broadway

Winner! 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
This winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which originally starred Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn and was later revived with Julie Harris and Charles Durning, uses a card game as a metaphor for life. Weller Martin is playing solitaire on the porch of a seedy nursing home. Enter Fonsia Dorsey, a prim, self-righteous lady. They discover they both dislike the home and enjoy gin rummy, so they begin to play and to reveal intimate details of their lives. Fonsia wins every time, and their secrets become weapons used against one another. Weller longs for a victory to counter a lifetime of defeats, but it doesn’t happen. He leaves the stage a broken man, and Fonsia realizes her self-righteous rigidity has led to an embittered, lonely, old age.


"Perfect [...] A vibrant study on loneliness, disillusion, old age and death yet fiercely funny." – The Boston Globe

"A thoroughly entertaining lesson in the fine art of theatrical finesse. The closest thing the theatre offers to a duel at 10 paces." – The New York Times

"Extremely intelligent [...] fine bittersweet comedy [...] Funny, sad, profane, eloquent, touching, beautiful." WABC-TV


THE GIN GAME’s D.L. Coburn on Revivals, Interpretations & The World Coming Together In Times Square 
by Courtney Kochuba
October 13, 2015

The Gin Game first premiered at American Theatre Arts in Hollywood, California on September 24, 1976, under the direction of Kip Niven.


1m, 1f


Parts for Senior Actors

FONSIA DORSEY - Prim and proper, Fonsia appears to be a fragile victim who has been abandoned to the run-down.
WELLER MARTIN - A man who sees life in terms of winning and losing. He is terribly competitive and deeply bitter.
D.L. Coburn

D.L. Coburn

D. L. Coburn was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1938. He came to prominence in 1977 with The Gin Game, which was his first play. The Gin Game ran on Broadway for 516 performances and subsequently toured the nation with its original cast of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy to sold-out houses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and a half dozen other cities before going on a tour of England ... view full profile

Now Playing
Melinda O'Brien 10/15/2015 1:54 PM
Beautiful play and utilizes more mature actors, very doable.
R Bowman 12/4/2013 7:54 AM
This is a story, a tragi-comedy, about two people near the end of their lives who unexpectedly begin a friendship out of necessity. Fonsia Dorsey and Weller Martin are living out there lives in a shabby, run down nursing home. They meet on Sundays, visitors’ day, as neither one have any visitors. Weller plays gin and teaches Fonsia how to play the game. She wins almost every time, which brings out the temper in Weller.

D.L Coburn uses quick, humorous and relatable dialogue as a build-up to the palpable tension between the two characters. The card game soon becomes a metaphor for life and acts like a mirror for both Fonsia and Weller reflecting the intimate details of their lives. As they sit across each other and play their hands, they learn about past spouses, jobs and family members. Neither one is terminally ill, but the audience soon comes to realize the depth of emotional scarring they carry within them. By the end of the play, both of these characters bring out the truth in one another as well as use it against each other in an unforeseen twist.

The dialogue between Fonsia and Weller engages the reader to ponder on mortality, truth and life decisions. It is easy to become invested in these two characters as we see there is always something to learn about ourselves in life no matter where we are in the game. The Gin Game is a thoughtful, relevant play and one to be read several times to catch another layer of meaning.

R. Bowman

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