The Ambrose Bierce Site


staged by the Lincoln Square Theatre, Chicago
Oct. 22 - Nov. 22, 2009

click all images below to enlarge

original poster

Rob Holmes as Bierce

Adapted and directed by Kristina Schramm
Cast Members: Sam Hicks, Rob Holmes, Kiley Moore, Jae K. Renfrow, Ed Schultz, Nathan Thompson, Joël Vining, Hilary Williams

Act 1:
A Tough Tussle
Curried Cow Part I
The Stranger
A Watcher by the Dead
Curried Cow Part 2
Act 2:
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Eyes of the Panther
Parker Addeson, Philosopher
The Moonlit Road
Curried Cow Part 3

Scenes from the Show
photos by Tom Snow

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

(l-r): Jae K. Renfrow, Sam Hicks (hanging), Joël Vining, Ed Schultz

Curried Cow

(l-r): Joël Vining, Ed Schultz

A Watcher by the Dead(l-r): Joël Vining, Jae K. Renfrow, Sam Hicks


Kiley Moore (kneeling), Hilary Williams

Eyes of the Panther(trees, back row): Kiley Moore, Jae K. Renfrow, Nathan Thomson (middle), Hilary Williams (panther)

A Tough Tussle

(l-r) Joël Vining, Kiley Moore (owl), Hilary Williams (fox)

Parket Adderson, Philosopher(l-r): Sam Hicks, Nathan Thompson, Jae K. Renfrow, Joël Vining, Ed Schultz

The Stranger

(l-r): Nathan Thompson, Jae K. Renfrow, Sam Hicks, Ed Schultz

The Moonlit Road(l-r): Joël Vining, Ed Schultz, Hilary Williams


An essay contest in conjunction with the show was won by Carol LaChapelle:


If Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," is any indication, the author liked to trick readers, not simply provoke them, as he regularly did in his newspaper columns and The Devil's Dictionary. One is tempted, then, to consider "Bitter Bierce's" disappearance almost 100 years ago through the trickster's lens.

But then every writer is a kind of trickster, luring readers into his reality, seducing with words and images, telling a compelling tale.

Oh, but what work that is! Those words and images, the well-told story, all that doesn't happen by itself. It takes sitting and staring at blank sheets of paper hour after hour, day after day, year after year.

And at 71, when he left to hang out with Pancho Villa and his army, Bierce had been chained to his writer's desk for over 40 years. Perhaps he simply tired of the effort needed to keep his readers reading. Maybe it was time to move on to something else, lark about a bit in Mexico.

Besides, his Collected Works, 12 volumes worth, published in 1912, a year before his disappearance, had met with less-than-enthusiastic praise. As one critic put it, "Bierce's vain and overwhelming desire for literary eminence had resulted in an imbalanced hodgepodge of writings..."*

So consider Bierce the writer, the totality of his life's work landing with a thud, what's he likely to do? Yes, he claimed he might want to write a few articles about his time with Villa's army then head on down to South America and finally to England.

But he didn't do any of that. What he did was vanish, without an apparent trace, his final days a mystery, thereby guaranteeing that people 100 years later would want to read him, write about him, stage plays about him.

Or in modern parlance, Bierce's disappearance was the ultimate career move. An ending worthy of a Trickster.

*Richard Saunders, Ambrose Bierce: The Making of a Misanthrope, 1985.
Other sources include Alfred Kazin in The American Short Story, Vol. 1 (1977)

Go to Carol LaChapelle's website


Lincoln Square Theatre Artistic Staff
Rachel Staelens, Casey Diers, Joseph Riley, Kim Baker, Joy Thorbjornsen-Coates, Steve Alspach, Kristin Toerpe, Samantha Umstead

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