“I wanted to defend the suburbs, and Naperville in particular because I feel like the suburbs can kind of get a bad rap of being boring or monotonous,” said Mat Smart, Playwright for “Naperville.”
Mat Smart did just that, writing a play, based in his hometown of Naperville, that highlights the beauty of living in a suburban community.
The play, aptly entitled “Naperville,” is a story about a 32 –year-old named Howard who returns home from work in Seattle to be with his mom after an injury has left her blind. He then runs into an old high school friend who’s sharing similar life struggles. It all takes place at a Caribou Coffee, in, you guessed it, Naperville.
A place the cast has learned to connect with through the play.
“I think the suburbs are a really beautiful place, it’s a really beautiful place to raise kids and feel safe and good schools and so I think that that sense of community is a really beautiful thing that happens in the suburbs,” said Abby Pierce, who plays Anne in the play.
The play also focuses on personal struggles, drawing a parallel between the lives of each character and our own Joseph Naper, who transitioned from being a ship-builder to founding and growing the town of Naperville.
“You know when you go through a crisis, you rely on the people around you. Joe Naper started Naperville with one log cabin, it’s crazy when you think about that, but it got through, and it grew and it grew and grew, I think that there’s always a parallel to settling and struggling and surviving,” said Mike Tepeli, who plays Howard in the play.
But you don’t have to be a Napervillian to understand the play. While small jokes will be recognized by those from the town, it’s meant to connect with people from all walks of life.
“If anything I think the play should inspire people in the cities and the suburbs to keep building out those communities and not to sink into their own hyper local remote, internet based interactions, because the play really is about the difference between those and sitting in a coffee shop with strangers,” said Jeremy Wechsler, Director of “Naperville.”
“Naperville” will run at Chicago’s Theatre Wit from now through October 16th.