One-Night Play Reading Starring James Earl Jones Sells Out

"Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?" at Guild Hall
Harris Yulin conceived of the reading after becoming reacquainted with it through a recording of his own previous performance of it on the internet.

A reading of “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” — Eric Bentley’s dramatic recreation of some of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings of the late 1940s and 1950s — seems especially relevant during today’s political climate, and when performed one time only by James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Harris Yulin, Peter Riegert, Paul Hecht, Richard Kind, Mercedes Ruehl, and another 20 or so actors, it sounds like the hottest ticket on Broadway.

Except it isn’t on Broadway. With Mr. Jones making his first appearance on an East End stage, as Paul Robeson, it’s the hottest ticket in East Hampton, and, not surprisingly, a sellout. It will be performed Saturday at 8 p.m. at Guild Hall.

Josh Gladstone, the artistic director of the venue’s John Drew Theater, pointed out that he reserves one slot for Mr. Yulin every summer. The actor, who is also directing the production, was familiar with the play from his days at the Los Angeles Classic Theater, which made radio broadcasts of some of its productions. 

“When I looked up the play on the internet recently,” Mr. Yulin said, “lo and behold, there I was on the recording, along with James Earl. Which I had completely forgotten about.”

Mr. Gladstone said that once other actors heard Mr. Jones was participating, they wanted to be involved as well. “Harris really hit it. He got these other great actors, like Peter Riegert, who I don’t think has done anything out here before. We also have a who’s who of talented local actors supporting this thing.”

Mr. Yulin said there might be a bit of staging, and some of the actors might dress the part to an extent, but everyone will read from a copy of the script.