September 14, 2014
Audrey Grant called my attention to the Canadian play by Carol Shields, 13 Hands, when she reviewed Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? in her Better Bridge magazine. In her review she noted the similarity in the play’s and my book’s viewpoint—“the sociable women’s bridge club deserved a voice.”
After that I started a “Literary Bridge” file for notes and clippings I came across about bridge in plays, movies, novels, et cetera. There’s quite a list! I’ll start with three plays.
Carol Shields is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Quote from the playbook’s cover–“The women in Thirteen Hands welcome a once-a-week gathering at a bridge club . . . and begin to indulge, reveal and celebrate in the wonderful intimacy they form. . . .that gets passed on like an heirloom to the next generation of bridge players. Something important goes on around a bridge table . . . .”
So, so true . . . and it’s what makes the women’s bridge club so important to the game as a whole. They have been, since the turn of the 20th century and before, the reason whist, bridge whist, auction and contract bridge were transmitted from generation to generation.
The Octette Bridge Club
I have four clippings in my file on The Octette Bridge Club by P.J. Barry, first produced evidently in 1985. They are from the New York Times, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Stillwater News Press and the Chatham NJ Patch. Which says to me, that a condescending and negative review in the Times isn’t the end of the world!
This is a play that has gone on to survive in local playhouses. For one thing, it has eight great roles for women, “nostalgic ambience.” It is “serio-comedy”—humor along with serious problems and confrontations faced by all families—on the lives of the eight sisters in Providence, R.I. Act One takes place in 1934, Act Two 10 years later in 1944, with the country at war.
This is a recent British play by Louise Monaghan. It won the Papatango New Writing Festival award in 2012. A course in learning to play bridge at a community center in Leeds, England provides the structure for this play, taught by teacher Dianna over several months. The three students are diverse reflecting contemporary England—a Muslim doctor, a working class hairdresser and a supermarket worker. “Partners unexpectedly bond across the bridge table, liberal assumptions are challenged . . .”
The Bridge Club by Richard Raskind, sounded like it fit the theme of this blog—not so! This bridge club is about the many people who attempt and/or commit suicide and should be more accurately titled–the Golden Gate Bridge Club.
There is a fourth play that legitimately belongs here—to be continued later this week.