Matt and Ben take the stage

Drama department performs play in the auditorium


Photo courtesy of Anna Blumenthal

In the play, “Matt and Ben” focus on the writing of their screenplay. The two deal with their difficulties throughout their friendship during the writing of “Good Will Hunting.” “My favorite part of the show is getting to play around with the dynamic between the two characters,” senior Anna Blumenthal said. “They are two very different people, and so as an actor, I needed to convey that message to the audience.”

Jasmine Hermosillo-Padilla, Editor-in-Chief Catalyst Online

On the nights of November 5, 6, 7 and 8, the Millard West Drama Department performed the play “Matt and Ben” on the mainstage. The show is a two-person play and was written by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers. 

In the play, two huge Hollywood stars, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck write a screenplay for the movie “Good Will Hunting.” In the beginning, a script drops from the sky, which signifies how the idea for the movie just came to them. The story mainly focuses on the dynamic between the two and their friendship. 

“This play is a gender performance piece, so every cast member has had to work on how to play the gender opposite of our own,” senior Anna Blumenthal said. “We took a gender performance workshop in which we Zoomed with an actor who specializes in identity and learned how to portray more masculine characters. I would say making our portrayals of men accurate and not too stereotypical has been the biggest challenge to the cast.” 

Throughout these meetings with the coach, the cast was able to analyze gender bias as well as picking apart the gender performances. Highlighting the masculine traits was key for the main characters as they had to focus on main aspects, including movement, posture  and speech pathology. 

Because the cast was portraying real people, they needed to research their pasts as well as the relationship between Damon and Affleck. This included watching videos to observe and practice speech patterns. 

COVID protocols brought many challenges that the cast had to overcome, affecting practices and performances.

“Audience members now have to make reservations ahead of time compared to previous years,”  freshman Sydney Hendricksen said. “The publicity crew has done an awesome job of having hand sanitizer for everyone as they enter and marking where people can enter and exit safely on different sides of the auditorium.”

With two sets of cast members performing a full length two person show, the actors have many lines to memorize. With this show there are also male characters being played by females, which adds another element to the whole show. 

Since the show was also set in the late 90s, the performers needed to learn the culture involved throughout the performance. In order to do this, they needed to look up many of the references mentioned in the script. 

“My favorite part of the show is all of the jokes in the script,” Director Brooke Phillips said. “I adore the playwrights and they are very clever sprinkling so many funny jokes throughout.”

This play was definitely unlike any other performance the drama department has ever done before. Despite the COVID protocols and other challenges, the department was still able to come together to have a successful performance.