John Holleman's POKERFACE Opens at Nashville's Darkhorse Theater on July 5 for Two Weekend Run


John Holleman's POKERFACE Opens at Nashville's Darkhorse Theater on July 5 for Two Weekend Run

Cris Cunningham, Andrew Gumm and Henry Gottfried star in John Holleman's Pokerface, running at Nashville's Darkhorse Theater July 5-14. Following the Nashville run, Holleman reports that Pokerface-an adaptation of his 1996 play Fish or Cut Bait-will travel north for a brief Chicago run.

As Fish or Cut Bait, the play was produced at several theaters around the country after its original 1996 production in Nashville that was directed by Robert Kiefer and produced by Darkhorse Theater and Mockingbird Public Theater. Subsequently, the play was performed at several theaters around the country, including college and regional theaters.

For Pokerface, Holleman directs his three-member cast in a new revision of his original work. "This is a script that I've tinkered with for years between writing other scripts," Holleman says.

"The current draft reflects workshop influences from the Sewanee Writers Conference in 2009 under the eye of the late playwright Romulus Linney, as well as readings at the Clarence Brown Theater in Knoxville and the Atlantic Theater Company in Manhattan. Tinkering is fine, and readings have their value, but nothing compares to a production. Actors applying their energy in rehearsal and then in front of an audience is the only genuine test of a script's value."

Holleman's most recent original play was an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writings of ant biologists, E.O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler. Written for students at St. Andrew's-Sewanee School, the play was literally a staged nature documentary presented as an amalgam of movement-theater and spoken word performance art.

Cris Cunningham is a film producer and director from Indiana with a strong background in theater. This is his debut stage performance in Nashville. Andrew Gumm is also a filmmaker, though he has extensive experience in improve comedy. University School of Nashville alumus Henry Gottfried is a Nashville native currently enrolled at Yale University. He has performed with the Wishing Chair Productions, the Nashville Public Library's renowned puppet theater.

Tickets for Pokerface are $10, with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, July 5-7 and July 12-14. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. each evening. For reservations or additional information, email

Pictured: Cris Cunningham

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.

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