CAPE MAY — East Lynne Theater Company presents "Nothing Matters," a two-person play about one of the world's greatest writers, Ambrose Bierce. The theater received the fourth AEA contract in the country since the shutdowns began in March 2020 to create this fully staged production, with no audience. Filmed with three cameras and edited, it originally ran in the fall of 2020. Written by Dave Geible, it stars Broadway actor James Rana with East Lynne’s artistic director, Gayle Stahlhuth, who also directed.
The setting is Ambrose Bierce's room in Washington, D.C., in early July 1898. Seeking Bierce's advice on how to be a better writer, Amanda Wentworth intends to merely drop off samples of her work, but ends up having a lively discussion with this fascinating journalist who worked for William Randolph Hearst, along with other newspaper publishers. Bierce's philosophy was "nothing matters," but of course, many things mattered to him. He was known as "the wickedest man in San Francisco" because he pursued the truth no matter who was the target of his journalist wit and humor. Having fought in the Civil War, his stories based on the experience are especially poignant, and "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is considered by many scholars to be one of the best short stories ever written. His most famous book, "The Devil's Dictionary," was named one of "The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature" by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration in 1976, and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig wrote that it is "probably the most brilliant work of satire written in America. And maybe one of the greatest in all of world literature."
"Nothing Matters" is available through Sunday, May 9, every day at 8 p.m. Tickets are free or pay-what-you-will (minimum $5) and may be obtained at TinyURL.com/bierce-tix. The link to watch the show is sent via email by Ticketleap, through which the ticket was obtained. For any problems, call the theater at 609-884-5898 or email email@example.com. Viewers have 24 hours to watch "Nothing Matters," and it may be paused and even stopped to return to later. The theater strongly recommends that you connect your computer to a flat screen TV with an HDMI cable so you can see the show on a larger screen with better sound, and even use closed captioning if you like.
East Lynne Theater Company premiered "Nothing Matters" in 2000 before playwright/performer Dave Geible took it on the road with the Wyoming Shakespeare Company. Geible has revisited the script for this current production.
Rana, an actor and playwright, has performed with theaters throughout the country, including East Lynne, and in film and television. In 2017, he performed in the off-Broadway "The Government Inspector," starring Michael Urie. In the fall of 2017, he began rehearsals for Broadway's "The Band's Visit," and performed several times in the role of the Band's Leader, originally played by Tony Shalhoub, and other roles. When this Tony Award winning show closed on Broadway in April 2018, he began performing in the national tour.
Stahlhuth has performed off-Broadway, in regional theaters, and in film and television. Since 1999 she has been artistic director at East Lynne, producing over 100 different shows for this company, and directing most of them. Her work has been praised in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The next virtual production, premiering 8 p.m. April 22 and running any time through April 25, is "Aunt Hattie's House: Reconstructed," written by and starring Emma Palzere-Rae. It's about what propelled Harriet Beecher Stowe to write "Uncle Tom's Cabin." It's free, and may be seen on East Lynne's YouTube Channel at TinyURL.com/ELTC-YouTube.
East Lynne Theater Company's mainstage season begins in mid-June with "Vaudeville Variety." To check out the season, see EastLynneTheater.org, under "Mainstage Season."