Matt Henderson puts himself into his characters both on the stage and behind the pen. Playwright Matt Henderson has overwhelmed the Pittsburgh arts community the month of February performing in three events at the same time his own creation, Existence and the Single Girl, produced by 12 Peers Theater runs at the Maker Theater in Shady Side every weekend this month through the 21st.
“Acting and writing are equally rewarding to me in different ways. When you’re acting in front of an audience you have an immediate give and take. You’re on the stage in the moment performing and its very fun. (It’s) fulfilling to get a laugh or you can see that the audience is pulled into the story and you (can) help tell the story in the moment and that is very fulfilling.”
Matt who wrote Existence and the Single Girl which premiered on the 5th said that “as a writer it's also very fulfilling to see other actors act out your story and perform your work and to watch the audience interact with the play and to see the play through the audience’s eyes. It’s a different perspective but it is also very fulfilling.
Existence and the Single Girl is a comedy turns psychotherapy on its head when a young girl, Ashley, is sent to a psychiatrist who turns her into a pop star icon. It expresses how Ashley must figure out her life sifting through the societal images that dictate how women should look and act.
Of all things, the play was inspired by Cosmopolitan magazine. Matt found himself skimming through the publication while waiting backstage for one of his acting rehearsals. What he read inspired him. He wanted to poke fun at the magazine and did so in the full length play in a style he describes similar to that of Saturday Night Live, enjoying their 40th anniversary, with a lot of crazy non-realistic and absurd humor.
Matt has is participating in three productions this month including Theater Festival in Black and White, February 14th through the 28th, a collection of one act plays including Matt’s The Roar of the Crowd at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company. (Yet Another) Evening of One Acts including Matt’s A Long Walk on the Beach will run at the Boyd Theater February 12th through the 21st.
Being a part of the theater community Matt expressed that it can sometimes be challenging, “Pittsburgh is a small city so all the theaters are competing for the same audience” but has many rewards “(it’s) welcoming and everyone knows each other. We all want to support each other as much as we can. It’s a cohesive support of community and that’s what is special about Pittsburgh.
About the show? Matt “hopes that they laugh. I hope that they find it entertaining and I hope that they pause to think about the way women are portrayed in pop culture and in music videos. (I hope they) look around to see the way things are and to also think about their own lives as they explore the meaning of their own existence and how they interact in society. Mostly I want them to laugh and have fun.”