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‘The Gin Game’ explores the human condition
The gin game

The ups and downs of life as an elderly senior citizen will be examined on June 20-23 in the Whitaker Black Box Theater.

“The Gin Game,” which won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, stars Averitt Center favorites Carol Thompson and Mical Whitaker. The funny-yet-poignant play is directed by esteemed Hollywood producer Charles Floyd Johnson, who is a personal friend of Whitaker and is an executive director of the long-running hit CBS series “NCIS.”

Written by Donald L. Coburn, “The Gin Game” uses the popular card game Gin Rummy as a metaphor for life and runs the gamut of emotions, including strong language intended for mature audiences. Notable professional performances have been the 1977 Broadway debut starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn and the movie version in 1981, the 2003 movie performance of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and the Broadway performance by Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones in 2015.

Savannah Car Rentals of Statesboro and Vaden Nissan of Statesboro are sponsoring the four-show run of the play. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. on June 20-22 and 3 p.m. on June 23. An opening-night reception for Johnson, Whitaker and Thompson will be held by the Xi Mu Nu, Zeta Delta Delta, Xi Beta Beta, Beta Gamma Gamma and Mu Phi chapters of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Tickets for the general admission show in the 73-seat theater are $16 for adults, $14 for Averitt members and $10 for students. The two-act play does contain strong language and may not suitable for all ages. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Averitt Center main gallery (open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday), by calling (912) 212-2787 or online at

Weller Martin (Whitaker) and Fonsia Dorsey (Thompson) are two elderly residents at a home for senior citizens. Since neither seem to have any other friends, they strike up an acquaintance and start to enjoy each other's company. Weller offers to teach Fonsia how to play gin and they begin playing a series of games that Fonsia always wins. Weller's inability to win a single hand becomes increasingly frustrating to him, while Fonsia becomes increasingly confident.

While playing their games of gin, they engage in lengthy conversations about their families and their lives in the outside world. Gradually, each conversation becomes a battle, much like the ongoing gin games, as each player tries to expose the other's weaknesses, to belittle the other's life, and to humiliate the other thoroughly.

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.

Charles Floyd Johnson