'A Night With the Family' world premiere—sitting down with playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett

Matthew Ivan Bennett is no stranger to the theatre world, but he is a stranger to Omaha, at least until late April. Having written numerous productions including short and full-length plays, A Night With the Family is Bennett’s first full-length comedy and his first production in Omaha. He is anxiously awaiting the world premiere of A Night With the Family on April 19, 2013 at the nation’s largest community theatre, the Omaha Community Playhouse.

A Night with the Family is about messy and hilarious family relationships and the family’s need to involve themselves in every crisis. The concept for this production came one sleepless night. “After conceiving the basic outline of the story, it all came quickly, taking about two months to complete,” Bennett said. “I didn’t imagine it, but I got emotionally swept up in this production more than I thought I would”.

Inspiration came from his personal experiences with family and friends. In A Night With the Family, the family patriarch, Donald, is a new-aged hoarder. “My dad is a famous hoarder, among us”, Bennett said laughing. “For years, my dad would collect anything.” Now that Bennett’s dad is remarried, the couple has cleaned out the house. “It took three truck loads and a 15-cubic-yard dumpster to clear out. They still can’t park in their garage,” Bennett said.
Dennis Collins as family patriarch Donald

The production also introduces the sister in the family, Bree, a Mormon convert, whose husband has some undesirable hobbies. Bennett has witnessed firsthand the dynamic between couples similar to Bree and her husband while living in Salt Lake City, a conservative city with a huge Mormon population. Bennett said, “It is really hard in Salt Lake City not to get in the politics in the Mormons vs. non-Mormons.”

Suzanne Withem and Nick Zadina as brother and sister, Bree and Donny
In the play we are also introduced to son Donny, a newlywed with anxiety attacks, and mother Diane, a cougar soon to be married to a French-Canadian modern dancer named Antoine. The correlation between Diane and Antoine came from Bennett’s mother who remarried a man younger than her. “I have no clue where the idea for the French-Canadian modern dancer came from,” said Bennett.

Matthew Pyle as Antoine and Kim Jubenville as Diane
Bennett is one of 11 children, with siblings that are between eight years old and 40 years old. His whole family is very supportive of him and they are excited to see this production. After asking Bennett if his brothers and sisters were sources for his playwrights and he said, “I would say so, but not necessarily in a direct way. I think my characters are often conglomerates of lots of pieces of different people.”

“We are all our craziest with our family, and it is a fact of human nature that we are the worst to the people we love,” said Bennett.   

Come enjoy this hilarious comedy on the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre, April 19 through May 12, 2013; Wednesday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Tickets are $35 for adults and $21 for students. For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for students. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, visit the OCP Box Office or click here.

Story by Anna Venditte


Lane Richins said...

Happy opening to the cast and crew of A Night with the Family! Hope you have a great run!

-Lane Richins, co-director, A Night with the Family, Pygmalion Productions, Salt Lake City

Verna said...

This is cool!