Friday, December 4, 2015
Spotlight On...Matt Newberg
Hometown: Fair Lawn NJ
Education: Clark University BA English
Favorite Credits: Stirling University Comedy Festival (Writer/Director), Talk Radio (Stu Noonan), Much Ado About Nothing (Borachio)
Why theater?: I actually took a break from theater for a while and I came back to it for two main reasons. Firstly, I came to the realization that being serious about writing and being serious about theater were not mutually exclusive by any means. The other reason is, of course, all the great people you meet through theater.
Tell us about Disciples: Disciples is my first play and it went up for a six show run at Clark University in October of last year. The reception was more positive than I would have ever hoped, which is what led me to continue to pursue the idea of getting it produced again. The play is about examining faith and the labels we ascribe to it. The narrative centers around a young couple who, through an unforeseen set of circumstances, are forced to renegotiate their relationship with their faith/religion which leads them to also critically examine their own relationship with one another.
What inspired you to write Disciples?: The show is based off my experiences growing up in a non-denominational church. Though none of the events I write about are autobiographical, it all feels very real as if they could have happened to someone I knew. I found that there were a lot of questions and contradictions that kept coming up that no one affiliated with the church really wanted to address. Disciples builds a story around those questions and contradictions and presents them in a way that hopefully makes sense.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like non-conventional theater. Stuff that kind of messes with the general format of a "theater production." Unfortunately I don't get to see as much theater as I would like, but I'd like to give a shout out to Mickle Maher's There is a Happiness That Morning Is, which was an extremely entertaining one-act that toured from Chicago earlier this month.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I've yet to work with just about everyone! I don't know, I'd probably be too overwhelmed to work with anyone. I'm just gonna wish Shia LeBouf because he's fresh in my mind.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: The more I talk to people, the more I realize this is a cliche. And I wasn't even particularly fond of the revival that went up last year. But I have probably recommend more people to read This Is Our Youth than most other things.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: It's hard to say because my life hasn't ended yet and I don't really known which parts of my life would be suitable for film adaptation. It'd be cool to go the Don't Look Back route and get like eight different actors who look nothing like me to play me at different points in my life. But I'm not nearly that prolific.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original This is Our Youth with Mark Ruffalo as Warren.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Anytime I've enjoyed myself at a musical production is a guilty pleasure.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A writer. I'm doing that anyway. In fact, I'm barely even working in theater at the moment. It'd probably be most accurate to ask "If you weren't working at a pizza place, you would be ___?"
What’s up next?: I have a novel in the works. And a one- act play. And some short fiction. Hopefully I finish at least one. Oh, and I have an album coming out as a songwriter next week too. But that's completely separate. The staged reading for Disciples is free and it's happening for one night on December 5th. Register online to reserve your seat at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disciples-staged-reading-tickets-19371793556. This event is likely to sell out as well.