Immaterial Matters

old cameraSmall-town America. The 1880s. A nation deep in an economic depression.

Not Like Today

A young, apprentice photographer, Crane Wordsworth arrives to take a last-minute portrait of Carrie, a dying painter. He’s too late.

Pressured by her family, he photographs her as though she’s sleeping. He’s never seen, much less photographed, a dead person, but he seems receptive to subconscious suggestions….

…provided by Carrie, who can only be seen and heard by the audience, and who will follow Crane home.

Crane’s off-the-cuff portraiture enrages Reilly, Crane’s bombastic, avaricious boss, who assumes the family will reject the photo. The family, however, loves the picture, displaying it prominently at her funeral.

And so a struggling photo studio embarks on a new, lucrative venture in hardscrabble town, where people seem to be dying faster than they’re being born.

The Good Old Good Old Days

For Crane, the trade comes at a cost. As word spreads, his workload increases, and he’s often called at odd hours. With Reilly’s pressure, he works almost nonstop.

At times, the departed prove less-than-photogenic, and, despite Carrie’s helpful whispers, Crane must improvise, both to make quality photographs and to satisfy survivors’ sometimes surprising demands. Crane begins burning out. Physically. Emotionally. The exhaustion. The deceased.

The Voices

And reality begins to splinter.

Though at heart the most serious of dramas, Immaterial Matters has a delicate, sepia-toned feel, rich with humor and human foibles. Like paging through family albums filled with those gone, it speaks of where we’ve come, who we are, and how evanescent our journey.

From Immaterial Matters

The Cast:

  • Two Men: One in 20s, one somewhat older.
  • Two Women: One in 20s, one somewhat older.
  • Three Women, One Man: The townspeople ensemble.

Two-acts; running time approx. two hours with interval.

  • Winner of CoHo Theatre’s New-by-Northwest Playwriting Contest.
  • Finalist for the Oregon Book Award.

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