Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spotlight on Matthew Sprosty

Matthew Sprosty, Westlake resident and successful playwright

Matthew Sprosty is a class of 2000 graduate of Westlake High School. Matthew Sprosty is a successful playwright. His play, ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY,’ is now being staged by Fourth Wall Productions.

Sprosty, who is the son of Lucille Parsell and Allan Sprosty, both of Westlake, graduated from Ohio University in 2004. He was active in the OU Playwriting Program, one of the few curriculums in the state centering on theatre script preparation.

In speaking of his high school days, Matthew credits Mr. Hoty, his television teacher for getting him interested in the media and Mrs. Sptizer for getting him involved in theatre.

Matthew wrote eight plays he wrote while in college. He also penned nine screen plays. Since college he has written three more. ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY, which was started in August of ’06, had a workshop in Columbus and has been written and rewritten based on input of friends and the workshop audience. By last count, this version is the ninth draft.

Sprosty states, “In my writing I try and figure out things I don’t understand.” In the case of ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY,’ he probes into the world of divorce. His own parents divorced when he was five. In preparing the script he spent a lot of time discussing her perceptions of the divorce with his sister Jaki, who is four years older than Matthew. He said, “Some of her revelations were chilling.” Though not about his parent’s divorce, he incorporated Jaki’s voice into the play.

Any one who gets the opportunity to view the production will quickly discover that Sprosty has a weird and ironic sense of humor. The play is a dark comedy/mystery. He got the idea for Bunny from experiences he had with his previous girlfriend, his relationship with her parents (“they hated me”), and the hidden desires he felt about her and them.

Fourth Wall Productions is just completing its first year of activity. Made up mainly of Ohio University theatre graduates, the company members, who are mainly from the Cleveland area, thought that there was a need on the North Coast for a company which performed new works by new writers. They are interested in attracting a non theatre-going crowd. This would be a younger and “hipper” audience than those who attend traditional theatres. They may have something as their surveying so far indicates that over 5% of Fourth Wall attendees have never before seen a play.

Why has he remained in Cleveland, while the “hot” theatre scenes are elsewhere? “I love Cleveland. I love the theatre here. I hate when I go to Chicago, or New York, that my friends laugh, and ask, ‘Why Cleveland?’” Matthew’s answer, “It’s because I believe Cleveland has huge potential. We raise great talent. We have the most welcoming situations for emerging artists. We just have to find a way to keep them here.” He thinks that Fourth Wall, through bridges they can build with other theatres in and out of the city, will help in his crusade. Fourth Wall has already built bridges with the Cleveland Play House, Bang and Clatter and Kalliope, with hopes for more.

As they enter their fourth year, Fourth Wall Productions is looking forward to expanding their repertoire and building a bigger audience base. Their season next year will include another Sprosty script.

As for Sprosty, who is not only the company’s resident playwright, but also serves on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer of the company, has been approached by other theatres to produce his plays. He continues to write and he’s hopping that he doesn’t get any evil thoughts about his present girl friend and her family that will be the basis for a future play. But, on the other hand . . ..

(To read a review of ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’ go on-line to: