"Matt And Ben"
At Central Square Theatre
Next up at Central Square Theater is "Matt
And Ben," the gender-bending Off-Broadway hit about Boston's own
hometown boys. Written by Mindy Kaling (of NBC’s
The Office) and Brenda Withers, the comedy features
Marianna Bassham and Philana Mia. M.
Bevin O’Gara directs the production, set to run from July
7 - August 14.
here's the backstory: Best buds from Cambridge write a screenplay, star
in the hit movie, win the Academy Award, and suddenly
the world can’t get enough of them. But what’s the real story
behind Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s
breakout success? Can fame literally land in your lap? "Matt And
Ben" comes home to Cambridge for a sharp skewering of celebrity culture
and an affectionate look at Boston’s favorite bromance.
When "Good Will Hunting" captured the 1998
Oscar for Best Original Screenplay before 1 billion television
viewers, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck rocketed from struggling young actors
to household names and icons of hard-earned success. They had made their
own way, penning a script with roles for themselves, forever changing
Fast-forward to the summer of 2001. Recent Dartmouth College graduates
Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers are camped out in their apartment in Astoria
trying to beat the heat wave. They notice that Ben Affleck’s face
is on the cover of almost every tabloid on the newsstands. Immersing themselves
in the gossip, they realize with curiosity that Damon and Affleck had
not shown screenwriting promise before "Good Will Hunting."
So how'd they do it? Around this skepticism they begin to improvise the
plot for their own artistic vehicle, featuring Kaling as Ben and Withers
"Matt And Ben" had its world premiere at the New York
Fringe Festival in 2002, where it won “Best in
Fringe” (Best Overall Production). In 2003, it began a
successful Off-Broadway run, where it was named one of Time magazine’s
“Top Ten Theatrical Events,” was on Rolling
Stone’s “Hot List,” and was the
only play invited to appear at the HBO sponsored U.S.
Comedy and Arts Festival in Aspen. Since then, the play has been
produced extensively around the United States and abroad.
Born in Cambridge, Mindy Kaling graduated from Dartmouth
College in 2001. She has appeared in such movies as "The
40 Year Old Virgin," "Night at the Museum" and
"No Strings Attached." Since 2005, she has been a writer,
co-executive producer and actor on NBC’s critically acclaimed television
show, "The Office," for which she has won a Writers
Guild Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards
and a 2006 Emmy Award. Her new book, Is Everyone
Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), comes out at the end
Brenda Withers grew up in Long Island, New York, and graduated from Dartmouth
College in 2000. She has appeared on such television shows such as "Law
and Order: Criminal Intent" and "The Office."
Her theater credits include productions of "Pride
and Prejudice," "Crimes of the Heart " and
"The Philadelphia Story." Withers is company member
and playwright at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre
(WHAT) in Wellfleet. Her play "The Ding Dongs or What is
the Penalty in Portugal?" will premiere at the WHAT Harbor
Stage this September.
"Matt And Ben" is the second Central Square Theater production
to be produced under the auspices of the organization’s Leadership
Program, which engages our region’s brightest emerging
artists for dynamic collaborations on professional stage productions.
Marianna Bassham returns to Central Square Theater having
previously appeared in The Nora Theatre Company’s "Not
Enough Air." She has also been seen in : "Othello"
(Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); "Blackbird"
(Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Actress), "In the Next
Room (or the vibrator play)" and "Reckless"
(SpeakEasy Stage Company); "Little Black Dress"
by Ronan Noone (Boston Playwrights' Theatre); "A
Streetcar Named Desire," "Silence," "Tartuffe,"
"Picasso at the Lapin Agile" and "Quills"
(New Repertory Theatre).
Philana Mia is making her debut with Central Square Theater.
She has been seen recently in "Dog Sees God: Confessions
of a Teenage Blockhead" (Moses Mogilee/NYC), "Melancholy
Play" (Holland Productions), "The Wonderful
World of Dissocia" (Apollinaire Theatre Company), and "The
Pain and the Itch" (Company One).
M. Bevin O’Gara is currently the Associate Producer
at the Huntington Theatre Company. She had also directed:
"2.5 Minute Ride" (Downstage @ New Rep); "The
Pain and the Itch" (Company One); "Two Wives
of India, Gary" (Boston Playwrights Theatre); "Othello,"
"The Crucible" (New Rep On Tour); "Bat
Boy" (Metro Stage Company); "Melancholy Play"
(Holland Productions); "Tattoo Girl," "Painting
You," "Artifacts" (Williamstown Theatre Workshop);
"Anti-Kiss" (3 Monkey’s Theatrical Productions);
"Play It Again Sam" (Footlight Club); and "La
Cage Aux Follies" and the upcoming "Anything
Goes" (Longwood Players).
For tickets and information, stop by the box office at 450
Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, call 866-811-4111 or visit centralsquaretheater.org.
Note: "Matt And Ben" contains