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

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.