NOTHING MATTERS is a fully staged Actors’ Equity production that was rehearsed and filmed without an audience in September 2020. After editing, it originally aired in Septmeber and October. It took ELTC’s artistic director Gayle Stahlhuth, three months to negotiate a contract with AEA so that NOTHING MATTERS could be produced during a pandemic. Written by Dave Geible, it stars NJ's own Broadway actor, James Rana as Ambrose Bierce, with Gayle Stahlhuth, who also directed.
The setting is Ambrose Bierce's room at the Army Navy Club in Washington D.C. in early July, 1898. Seeking Bierce’s advice on how to be a better writer, Mrs. Charles Wentworth 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. 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."
Taking on the role of Bierce is James Rana. The director is Gayle Stahlhuth, who also portrays the fictitious Mrs. Wentworth. ELTC 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.
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.”