Pulitzer Prize-winning drama highlights the indifference of our mercenary world
The Gin Game
HKRep classic features Weigo Lee x Au Ga Man x Chow Chi Fai in a new lineup
【Hong Kong Repertory Theatre】In a seedy nursing home, two elderly residents befriend each other, passing time playing gin rummy. As the play unfolds game after game, they share stories of their past, shedding light on the many problems of aging in our society. The Gin Game, written by D. L. Coburn, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1978 and has since received more than 5,000 performances around the world. Since 2004, the HKREP has presented this drama in Hong Kong and China in both Cantonese and Putonghua. The Hong Kong production has also travelled to Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, among other cities, in a total of 65 performances and winning critical acclaim. This 2018 production, revived by director Weigo Lee, features Au Ga Man and HKRep company member Chow Chi Fai. The Gin Game runs between 31st August and 16th September at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets are available now from URBTIX outlets.
The Gin Game chronicles the equally lonely and despondent Weller (played by Chow Chi Fai) and Fonsia (played by Au Ga Man) as they pass their time in a seedy nursing home, keeping each other company and engaging in tit-for-tat. The play unfolds in 14 games, gradually revealing the tragedy and destitution of the elderly abandoned by society and by family. The simple yet straightforward dramatic structure underlines the indifference of a society that only prizes material success.
HKRep Artistic Director Anthony Chan states, “In the 14 years since the HKRep premiered The Gin Game, more than 4,000 audience members have seen this work. In other words, The Gin Game has become one of our repertory classics. This season, we bring this work back to the stage, welcoming new cast members Au Ga Man and Chow Chi Fai, both of whom will add new vibrancy to this production with two opposing, multi-dimensional and poignant characters inhabiting a small stage, their words and actions delving into such themes as human dignity and life’s expectations, as well as elderly bonds. It is a play that brings to the open the emotional desolation of the aged confined in nursing homes.”
Director Weigo Lee recognizes the following in The Gin Game: “This play doesn’t concern itself with love or hatred, but it’s filled with drama. It may only feature two actors, yet it spans a full range of emotions. Entire lives are portrayed in a dozen or so card games.”
Playwright D. L. Coburn
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1938, Coburn rose to prominence with his first play, The Gin Game, in 1976. After a 516-show Broadway run, The Gin Game launched a successful national tour. In the past three decades, this work has been performed all over the world. After The Gin Game, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1978, Coburn followed with such stage works as Bluewater Cottage (1979), Guy (1983), Fear of Darkness (1995), Fire Brand (1997) and The Cause (1998). He has also written television pilots for CBS and ABC and several screenplays, including Flights of Angels (1987), A Virgin Year (1991) and Legal Access (1994).
Translator and Director Weigo Lee
Weigo Lee graduated from Drama School of Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (Directing). At the Hong Kong Drama Awards, his works have won the Best Director five times (2000, 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2012), namely Cricket in My Life, Spider in Meditation, The Massage King, Art, and Death and The Maiden.
From 1994 to 2006, Lee has served as the Resident Director at the Prospects Theatre and he has conducted most of the company’s productions. Whilst at the position, he has won the Best Overall Performance and seven Top Ten Most Popular Productions awards at the Hong Kong Drama Awards.
In addition, he has directed over 80 productions for other theatre companies. Recent works have included: Art, Death and The Maiden, Circle Mirror Transformation and Die Firma dankt for the HKRep; Art and I Ought to Be In Pictures by the Emperor Entertainment Group; The Real Thing by Dayo Wong; Tuesdays with Morrie (TorCanAA) in Toronto, Six Characters in Search of an Author and La Dispute for HKAPA, The Ugly One and The Phenomenon of Man by On & On Theatre Workshop; Proof for the Windmill Grass Theatre; Confessions, Men and Dogs, Waiting for the Match by iStage; as well as God of Carnage, Proof and Collected Stories for the Guangzhou Drama Art Center. His works have been performed around the world, including Canada, Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, and Macao. He directed the HKRep production of The Gin Game, which was performed at the World Drama Festival in Nanjing in 2008, winning an Outstanding Theatre Award; The production went on to tour around different cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Shantou between 2009 and 2011 to critical acclaims. It was selected by a Mainland Chinese website as one of the three best Beijing productions of the year. In 2012, Lee directed Wu Song Fight Mosquitoes for the Macao Youth Repertory Theatre, and the production was taken to the Guangdong Province Arts Festival representing Macao. It was performed in Guangzhou and Dongguan.
In addition to his work as a director, Lee has also translated many plays including: The Gin Game, Art, Trumpets and Raspberries, I Ought to Be In Pictures, Death and The Maiden, The Real Thing, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, RED, Three Tall Women, Circle Mirror Transformation, Proof, Collected Stories and Rabbit Hole.
Currently a freelance theatre practitioner, Lee is a committee member of the Theatre Panel of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Expert Advisor to the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme launched by the Home Affairs Bureau of the HKSAR, an artistic advisor of the Macao Arts Festival, an examiner for the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Honorary Adviser of the Emperor Entertainment Academy for the Performing Arts.
In 2018, Weigo Lee established the Theatre Styles company in Macao and he is currently the artistic director.
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