Life and death decisions in ‘The Gambling Room’

Calvin Atkinson, Sebastian Cummings and Dan Tobin star in "The Gambling Room." Credit: John Rosenberg
Calvin Atkinson, Sebastian Cummings and Dan Tobin star in “The Gambling Room.”
Credit: John Rosenberg

Growing up in Los Angeles, John Rosenberg had a fist-pumping, Rambo-inflected pro-U.S. stance on the Vietnam War. “I was super-Mr. America,” Rosenberg recalls, “and then I grew up and stopped being an idiot.”

In 2009, Rosenberg and his “ladyfriend” traveled to Vietnam, where her sister was a journalist in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, before relocating to her native Philadelphia. (“Maybe she was preparing me for what the East Coast was like by taking me to Vietnam,” Rosenberg jokes.) While there, the couple visited Reunification Palace, the home of the president of South Vietnam during the war. Rosenberg’s attention was captured by the gambling room, where the powerful would gather to unwind.

“It’s a very beautiful, comfortable place where powerful people made decisions about life and death,” Rosenberg says. “Something about it really captured my imagination. I really wanted to do a play that took place in the room, but then I realized that there was something strange about an American dude writing a play that took place in a Vietnamese palace.”

Instead, he wrote “The Gambling Room,” the story of two brothers in the U.S. diplomatic corps attempting a coup d’etat in South Vietnam in 1963. “I usually write plays that take place somewhere historically, but they’re all very personal stories,” he says. “So within a story that takes place during these coups and backstabbings and betrayals, there are beautiful things about families or relationships that I was able to dig into and discover and play with.”

The play premieres this Saturday at the Papermill Theater, Rosenberg’s intimate space in the Papermill Arts Collective, a five-story warehouse in Kensington which also features artist workspace, a gallery and a community library. Maintaining the space allows Rosenberg to premiere his own work on a DIY level.

“I don’t want to write plays and send them out and hope they get produced at some point,” Rosenberg says. “If I’m going to put that much work into writing a play, why not fully develop it? I’m just some dude; I can’t expect other people to put on my bullsh— work, so I might as well do it.”

If you go

“The Gambling Room”
May 18-June 9
Papermill Theater
2825 Ormes St.
$10, 510-292-6403
www.hellafreshtheater.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Local

Police look for man suspected of threatening Muslim…

Police seek man suspected of calling a teen Muslim girl a "terrorist" and spitting on her multiple times while on a Queens bus.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NHL

Top 5 New York storylines for Rangers-Flyers playoff…

The Rangers and Flyers have a long history of animosity toward each other. Now they get to rekindle that rivalry in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.