Mat Smart

May 2020 View more

Love for the burbs
[The dramedy] Naperville is my love letter to the suburbs, and a chance to push back against the attitude that they’re all the same. I wanted to show that there’s more to the suburbs than a lot of people think, and that there a plenty of people living rich, interesting, spiritual lives in the suburbs. The best reactions I get are when people from Naperville tell me that the play helped them appreciate their town in a new way—that’s really special to me.

Close to home
Naperville was first done in New York City, where everyone thought the suburbs were kind of exotic. So when the play was produced closer to home (at Chicago’s Theater Wit in 2016), it was interesting to see how everyone seemed to have very distinct opinions about Naperville—both good and bad.

Lessons from the past
I find it fascinating to look at our current times through the lens of history. That’s what I was trying to do in Naperville, which ties back to the founding of the town by Joseph Naper, and that’s what I’m doing again with my new play Eden Prairie, 1971, which asks what I think are timeless questions about what it means to be an American.

At presstime, the monthlong run of Naperville at McAninch Arts Center was canceled, and the world premiere of Smart’s Eden Prairie, 1971 at Raven Theatre ( on May 7 will be rescheduled. Check the theater’s website for the latest information.

Photo by Matt Simpkins Photography