"Humor is tolerant, tender; its ridicule caresses. Wit stabs, begs pardon – and turns the weapon in the wound. Humor is a sweet wine; wit a dry; and we know which is preferred by the connoisseur. Of course, if you fire live rounds, be prepared for return fire."
Ambrose Bierce is talking to Amanda Wentworth in Bierce's room at the Army Navy Club in Washington D.C. in early July, 1898, in the two-character, 75-minute play, "Nothing Matters," produced by the award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company. Seeking Bierce's advice on how to be a better writer, Amanda intends to merely drop off samples of her poetry and stories, but ends up having tea and learning a great deal about the fascinating journalist.
"Nothing Matters" is a fully-staged Actors' Equity production that will be available on East Lynne Theater Company's YouTube Channel, https://www.tinyurl.com/ELTCYouTube, after it has been filmed and edited, from October 14 through November 21, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM. It took ELTC's artistic director Gayle Stahlhuth, three months (and around 50 hours) to negotiate a contract with Actors' Equity Association so that "Nothing Matters" could be produced during a pandemic.
Tickets are $15.00 and may be purchased at tinyurl.com/bierce-tix. Before the filmed play is ready, only the opening date is listed for ticket purchasing, but all other dates will be added after "Nothing Matters" has been uploaded to YouTube, and ELTC knows the specific YouTube url for this play. ELTC hopes to have the play uploaded by October 10 at the latest. When purchasing tickets, the specific YouTube url will appear on the patron’s ticket for the specific performance. For those who purchased tickets on opening night before the play has been uploaded, the YouTube url will be sent via e-mail.
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."
ELTC first produced Dave Geible’s play, "Nothing Matters," in 2000, and the script was revised for the current production. In 2001, Geible performed it himself, as a one-person show, touring it throughout his home state of Wyoming. He was a founding member of the Wyoming Shakespeare Company, in which he performed in classics including "Macbeth" and "Twelfth Night."
James Rana portrays Bierce, and Gayle Stahlhuth directed and portrays the fictitious Amanda Wentworth in the current produciton.
James Rana, actor/playwright, has performed with theaters throughout the country, including ELTC, and in film and television. In 2017, he performed in Off-Broadway's "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 performed 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.
Gayle Stahlhuth has performed Off-Broadway, in regional theaters, and in film and television. Since 1999 she has been Artistic Director of ELTC, producing over 100 different plays and musicals for this company, and directed most of them. Her work has been praised in "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," and "The Philadelphia Inquirer."
Meanwhile, "Tales of the Victorians" continues every Thursday at 4:00 PM – live, in a backyard in Cape May. To make a reservation, call 609-884-5898 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is a minimum donation of $5.00, paid with cash, at the door. "Tales of the Victorians" are also available – at home on ELTC's YouTube channel. To learn more about "Tales of the Victorians," visit www.tinyurl.com/ELTC-tales.
ELTC is still producing "Poe by Candlelight" on Saturday, October 24, but moved this popular event from inside the Cape May Presbyterian Church, to outside, behind Borough Hall in West Cape May, 732 Broadway. Tickets are $12, with $2 from each ticket going to the West Cape May Christmas Parade 2021.
Visit www.eastlynnetheater.org, for updates on ELTC's 40th Season, both live and virtual.
ELTC's productions would not be possible without the support of season sponsors Curran Wealth Management, La Mer Beachfront Resort, The Washington Inn, The Henry Sawyer Inn, and Fins Bar and Grille, plus funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and contributions from many other businesses and friends.
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