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Ron Reed

Stage Plays With Card Game References

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Ron Reed   

We're about to stage Conor MacPherson's play THE SEAFARER. Act Two is mostly a poker game.

Which got me thinking: what other plays have card games as part of the action, or reference card games?

So far, I've thought of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE ("When men are drinking and playing poker anything can happen. It's always a powder-keg."), THE FOREIGNER ("I am not going back to that yellow room again. Damn picture on the wall of some dogs playin' poker.") and THE ODD COUPLE ("Let's just play cards and please hold them up. I can't see where I marked them.")

Also a couple of plays less widely known: Dutch Blitz is played in REFUGE OF LIES, and Uno (I think)in THE INFINITE LIFE OF SIMON DYCK.

Others?

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Evan C   

A blackjack game features semi-prominently between Billy and Jigger in Carousel, although that's a musical, not a play.

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Rushmore   

A blackjack game features semi-prominently between Billy and Jigger in Carousel, although that's a musical, not a play.

That's like saying King Lear is "a tragedy, not a play."

Edited by Rushmore

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Evan C   

 

A blackjack game features semi-prominently between Billy and Jigger in Carousel, although that's a musical, not a play.

That's like saying King Lear is "a tragedy, not a play."

No, the traditional definitions of theatre shows (as of the late 19th century) are:

 

play - completely spoken (or just about)

musical - mixture of singing and dialouge

opera - completely sung (or very close to)

 

"Play" is frequently used to mean any theatrical production, but that is technically not accurate.  Tragedy (or comedy) is a genre of storytelling that can be used in a play, a musical, or an opera.  During the mid to late 1800's there was a prevailing belief that musicals would be comedies, and operas would be tragedies, but that was largely abandoned through the 20th century as genres were blended.  Prior to the 1800's the genres of musical theatre were opera seria, opera buffa, and singspiele.  The latter two gradually came to be known as musicals and the former as opera.

 

I didn't know if Ron was looking for any theatrical shows, or specifically plays.

 

And yes, those definitions mean that Jesus Christ Superstar is technically a rock opera, Les Miserables is a pop opera, and The Phantom of the Opera is a musical.

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Ron Reed   

If it happens on a stage, I'm happy. They can sing it, they can say it, they can mime it or dance it.

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Rushmore   

I seem to remember cards being played in August Wilson's Jitney, though I'm not sure if it was in the script or just the production I saw.
 

 

 

A blackjack game features semi-prominently between Billy and Jigger in Carousel, although that's a musical, not a play.

That's like saying King Lear is "a tragedy, not a play."

 

No, the traditional definitions of theatre shows (as of the late 19th century) are:
 
play - completely spoken (or just about)
musical - mixture of singing and dialouge
opera - completely sung (or very close to)

 

Eh, I don't care about nineteenth-century definitions. By these definitions, none of Aeschylus' or Sophocles' works were plays (since ancient Greek tragedy featured a singing, dancing chorus).

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Evan C   

I seem to remember cards being played in August Wilson's Jitney, though I'm not sure if it was in the script or just the production I saw.

 

No, the traditional definitions of theatre shows (as of the late 19th century) are:

 

play - completely spoken (or just about)

musical - mixture of singing and dialouge

opera - completely sung (or very close to)

Eh, I don't care about nineteenth-century definitions. By these definitions, none of Aeschylus' or Sophocles' works were plays (since ancient Greek tragedy featured a singing, dancing chorus).

Fair enough.  But genre definitions for theatre have changed overtime as the works produced for theatre have changed.  The definitions I posted originated late 19th C, but they were commonly accepted (by musicologists - hmm maybe that's the problem) until the opera musicals that became popular in the '70's and '80's.

 

And ancient Greek tragedy was (and is) an art form unto itself.  Although if one were produced today in the original production style (with singing and dancing, full sized chorus, etc.), I would probably call it a musical.

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mrmando   

Stage directions at the top of Act 2 of Saroyan's THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE have Joe "shuffling and turning a pack of cards." I guess you could infer that he's playing solitaire. 

 

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Evan C   

Chicago has a poker game in which one hand is four of a kind aces and another is a royal flush.

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NBooth   

Mark Twain and Bret Harte collaborated on a dreadful play entitled AH SIN; OR, THE HEATHEN CHINEE, which features a card game prominently in the first act. As it would, being based on the Harte's poem "The Heathen Chinee".

Edited by NBooth

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