We are halfway through our first week of rehearsals for The Gaming Table, and it’s already too much fun not to share. So without further ado…
Welcome to the Folger Theatre Production Diary for Susanna Centlivre’s The Gaming Table (originally titled The Basset Table), brought to you by a double-dose of Emily T. That’s right! There are two Emily T’s in this cast – Emily Townley and Emily Trask – and it will be our pleasure to keep you updated on the process of putting together and performing this “high-stakes” romp (yes. pun intended). This first blog is brought to you by the Trask variety. Delighted to meet you!
I have the delicious task of playing Valeria, a young female Natural Philosopher. And although Valeria, herself, does not take part in the dangerous sport of cards, I think it’s safe to say that all the characters (including our she-philosopher) are entrenched in their own game.
We fully plan to regale you with funny anecdotes from rehearsals, the inside scoop on the cast and crew (including our own personal versions of gambles and gaming), the down-low on the amazing set and stunning costumes, but first…
Many of you may not have heard of The Gaming Table before, and an equal number of you may never have “met” our playwright. So, let’s do a quick and dirty introduction, shall we?
Who the Deuce is Susanna Centlivre?
*An English poet, actress, and one of the premier playwrights of the 18th century.
*Known as the Second Woman of the English Stage after Aphra Behn.
*Born 1667 (just seven years after women were allowed on the English Stage) and died 1723.
*You may recognize her name from such hits as:
- The Gamester (1705)
- The Basset Table (1705) – THAT’S OUR PLAY!
- The Wonder
- A Bold Stroke for a Wife
- The Busie Body (1709)
*She had a long career at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
*She was married three times, #3 was to one of the royal cooks (guess third time really is a charm!).
*She was a Whig (and in her later years politically vocal about it in her work), and a Protestant
*She was buddies with Richard Steele, Nicholas Rowe, Ambrose Philips, and other theatrical male contemporaries.
*She wrote in a time when it was still quite conspicuous and bold for women to be writing at all.
What the Deuce is The Gaming Table About?
“This witty play paints a seductive picture of the thrills of the Restoration gaming table and challenges contemporary stereotypes of the learned lady.”
Want a little more?
The Gaming Table was originally called The Basset Table, but it was renamed for our purposes because modern audiences have no idea what “basset” is. For some, the original title may bring to mind images of dogs playing poker. Surprisingly, that image is about half correct. The play follows the fortunes of a wealthy young widow, Lady Reveller, who runs a table where her friends play the card game basset (a roulette-esque game of chance and high stakes), and her struggle to avoid the constraints of society and marriage. Meanwhile, Lady Reveller’s cousin, Valeria, spends her time conducting scientific experiments and dissections, while Valeria’s father is intent on marrying her off to a British Seaman. Lady Lucy, Reveller’s other cousin, tries desperately to restore a sense of virtue and order the the house, and Lord Worthy, Sir James Courtly, and Ensign Lovely all live up to their names (after some questionable antics). But, how can Lady Reveller be persuaded to forego the delights of gambling? And isn’t love, perhaps, the greatest gamble of all?
Who the Deuce are You?
As I mentioned above, I am Emily Trask (one of two Emily T’s in this incredible cast). I am originally from Manitowoc, Wisconsin (major Cheesehead territory – Go Pack!), went to undergrad at Grinnell College in Iowa, where I graduated with a BA in Theatre/Literature and just received my MFA this past May from the Yale School of Drama. Like Centlivre herself in her early years, I have been a bit of a gypsy. I have acted all over the country, in more than a dozen states at more than a dozen theaters, and have had the great pleasure and challenge to work in Classical, Contemporary, and Musical Theatre. I currently live in New York, and this is my first time in DC and working with the Folger. Less than a week here and I am already in love with both the city and the theatre.
I could not be more honored and excited to be a part of this incredible team of actors, designers, and “gamesters” who are working on this incredible show. I also could not be happier to be playing Valeria, since the people who know me best will readily tell you I am, at heart, a nerd.
Pssssst! If you click on something that’s written in that saucy red, it will take you to an outside link on the subject!