By: RYAN L. GRUENEWALD
A sold out audience filled the South Bend Civic Center’s Firehouse Theater on Portage Ave., Feb. 19, for a staged reading of “The False Lie” written by IU South Bend faculty and Notre Dame alum Matt Benedict and directed by David Chudzynski.
Benedict started teaching for IUSB’s theatre program last summer. He has an MA in English and an MFA in creative writing from Notre Dame.
“Staged reading is a very broad term,” Benedict said. “It could be as simple as actors sitting in chairs reading lines from a script. There’s no acting, there’s no movement. [It] could also be full costume, full staging. Basically a rehearsal.”
He described the evening’s production as somewhere in the middle. According to Benedict, a playwright goes into such an event to find out if their play really works, or whether it’s worth being Professor’s play focuses on difficult subjects fixed and eventually fully produced.
“For me as a playwright, I ask myself a lot of questions,” Benedict added. “The biggest one is, ‘Does it hold together?’”
He was confident only minor adjustments needed to be made. The narrative of “The False Lie” centers on the new-found relationship between Kane and Grace, two characters who have appeared separately in Benedict’s previous short stories. It took ten years for Benedict to find a proper medium in which these characters could thrive together.
“I was unsatisfied because I knew there were parts of them I hadn’t really explored or understood yet,” he said.
Before the stage became the obvious place for Kane and Grace to meet, Benedict had attempted a few additional short stories and even a novel.
“Those failed miserably,” Benedict laughed.
The play, he admitted, employs “heavy” themes. Grace, a recipient of a radical mastectomy, finds Kane, whose divorce was finalized the previous day. To complicate Kane’s emotionally raw state, the divorce had been preceded by the loss of an unborn child.
Nevertheless, Benedict sees the play’s subject matter as relatable for everyone.
“A disease like cancer touches everybody,” he said.
His characters were created by drawing from personal experience and influenced greatly by acquaintances who have overcome similar crises. Ten years might seem like a long time for characters to remain in the back of the mind of a writer, but the kind of loss the characters face, for the playwright, endures.
“I can imagine these characters being with me for a long, long time,” he said.
Benedict explained he may never be finished telling Kane and Grace’s story.
“As a writer, I know that if they really get under my skin at some point they’ll come back to me or I’ll come back to them.”