Matt Damon will join Mark Ruffalo and Missy Yager in a special benefit reading next month of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth, the acclaimed play that premiered Off Broadway in 1996 in a production starring Ruffalo, Yager and Josh Hamilton.
The reading will be directed by Mark Brokaw (How I Learned To Drive), who directed the original staging, on Nov. 16 at Manhattan’s Center at West Park, an Upper West Side arts facility and cultural hub that provides affordable performance, rehearsal, and event space to local artists and community members. Funds raised will benefit the Center.
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The event, honoring the Center’s Founding and Current Board President Mim Warden, will kick off the Center’s new Renowned American Playwrights Showcase, a series of readings of acclaimed stage works performed predominantly by their original casts. Upcoming readings will include the works of Tony Kushner, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Suzan-Lori Parks and more.
“I grew up a few blocks away from the CWP,” said Lonergan in a statement. “I went to school on 88th Street. My parents lived in the same apartment on 92nd Street for 52 years. The Upper West Side is my hometown and my heart. I’m thrilled that This Is Our Youth will be the first reading in the Center’s Renowned American Playwrights Showcase.”
Each play in the series will be presented once, followed by a brief talkback with the cast, director, and playwright.
“The series,” Lonergan continued, “will allow The Center at West Park to continue its support of emerging artists from all disciplines, as a cultural anchor for not only the Upper West Side neighborhood, but all of New York City.” Lonergan said the CWP “has the potential to expand its mandate, and to develop into a major arts center on the Upper West Side, on the model of Joe Papp’s Public Theater.”
This Is Our Youth premiered Off Broadway in a 1996 production directed by Brokaw and starring Hamilton, Yager and, in a star-making performance, Ruffalo. They played three New York teenagers navigating a turbulent time in their lives on the Upper West Side. For the reading, Damon will step in for Hamilton.
Tickets for the reading begin at $500. Sponsorships of $10,000 and above will include the reading and a special afterparty with the cast and creative team. The proceeds, according to today’s announcement, will also allow the Center “to invest in restoring and repairing the building (also known as West Park Presbyterian Church), enhancing the sound, lighting and technical systems, while providing equal access for all students to arts and culture programs, support for artists of all ages through affordable spaces and artist-in-residence programs, works in process and more.”
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