Artists Rep will present The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn, starring Allen Nause and Vana O'Brien, directed by JoAnn Johnson. This two-person, two-act play is a 1978 Pulitzer Prize winner and garnered multiple Tony Award nominations both with its original 1977 production and the Broadway revival in 1997. This play replaces the originally planned production of The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar.
The Invisible Hand will likely be presented next year as part of Artists Rep's 2013/14 season. Artistic Director Allen Nause strongly believes this play should be an international collaboration that includes Pakistani artists. Nause served as a U.S. Cultural Envoy last summer through the Pakistan National Council for the Arts when he directed Neil Simon's The Odd Couple for LUSH Theatre in Islamabad, so his ties to the artistic community there are strong. After working with the State Department for some time, it recently became clear that the extensive process required for establishing work visas in this type of exchange didn't match the theatre's timeline. Nause and incoming Artistic Director Dámaso Rodriguez agreed to delay the production to give the theatre enough time to secure the artists that they feel are integral to the artistic and organizational goals for producing the play.
MARCH 26-APRIL 28 | Morrison Stage
The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn -- When life deals you a bad hand, do you give up the game? It's Visitor Day at the "home for the aged," and Weller is playing a solitary game of cards on the sunporch when a tearful Fonsia, troubled by her new environs, seeks a private moment. Weller invites her to a cheerful game of gin rummy to pass the time but as the days and conversations pass, the game becomes more than either of them anticipate. Through laughter, tears, frustration and fear, the truth of their lives is dealt. In this tragi-comedy, the upper hand is shuffled between two souls who play their lives out to each other over a well-worn score pad.
The production will feature veteran Artists Rep actors Allen Nause and Vana O'Brien. O'Brien is part of the theatre's Resident Acting Company and was one of the founding artists of Artists Rep. It was she who suggested Nause for the role of Artistic Director in 1988. Surprisingly, Nause and O'Brien have never appeared on Artists Rep's stage together. The Gin Game offers these actors and our audiences the exciting opportunity to perform alongside each other in a play they've both always yearned to do.
Allen Nause (Weller) has been Artists Repertory Theatre's Artistic Director since 1988. He has performed in many plays at Artists Rep including: Frankie and Johnny in the Claire De Lune, Breaking The Code, Art, The Drawer Boy, Death Of A Salesman, Blackbird, Vanya and most recently No Man's Land. Allen has appeared in many other Northwest theatres including: Portland Center Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Empty Space, A.C.T. Seattle and the Intiman Theatre. Allen joined Artists Rep as the company's first Artistic Director in 1988 and has directed many of its most Popular Productions. He directed Our Town with Mahesh Dattani in Bangalore, India and led two international tours to Africa and the Near and Middle East, representing American regional theatre for U.S.I.A. Arts America. In 2000, Allen traveled to Vietnam and co-directed a bilingual, bicultural production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and a Vietnamese production of A Glass Menagerie as part of the Vietnam/America Theater Exchange. In May 2007, he directed All My Sons with the Palestinian National Theater in Jerusalem. Allen directed The Odd Couple for LUSH Theatre in Islamabad, Pakistan in the summer of 2012 as a U.S. Cultural Envoy through the Pakistan National Council for the Arts.
Vana O'Brien (Fonsia) has been involved with Artists Rep since 1981 when she and a small group of fellow theatre artists started the new company in the Portland YWCA. Since that time, she has worked on several different Portland stages and also seen Artists Rep grow to its current size and well-respected status. Favorite Artists Rep roles include Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All For You, Long Day's Journey into Night, Top Girls, Mound Builders, Country Girl, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, Artificial Jungle, The Laramie Project, A Perfect Ganesh and Superior Donuts. In other Portland theatres, some memorable roles for Vana are in Greek, Faith Healer, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Seagull, Noises Off and particularly the play she and her daughter Eleanor performed together at CoHo Theatre, Collected Stories. Vana joined Artists Rep's Southeast Asia Arts America tours in 1991 and 1994 performing in Driving Miss Daisy, The World of Carl Sandburg, Three Tall Women and scenes from American comedies. She is a member of Artists Rep's Resident Acting Company.