Mat Diafos Sweeney / Ματθἀιος Διἀφως is an Ovation Award winning director, writer, and composer working in downtown Los Angeles, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Gabrielino-Tongva and Chumash people. He works with text, movement, music, and design to create original performance work, primarily through his company four larks .
He is a Fulbright Scholar, a recent fellow at MacDowell and at the Bogliasco Foundation Study Center in Genoa, and the proud recipient of the Dorothy and Richard E Sherwood Award from Center Theatre Group recognizing an “innovative, adventurous theatre artist…pushing boundaries and improving the future of their artistic field.” This spring Mat will be in residence developing new work at Yaddo.
Mat “hurtles over the boundaries between genres to create immersive, transformative events” (NPR). His work has been described as “the future of contemporary performance” (Los Angeles Times). His junkyard operas are composed from collaged texts and found/repurposed objects. In sound, image, and movement, he reimagines mythic narratives for our age of limitless information, dehumanizing technologies, and ecological anxiety. By revisiting past mythologies, Mat's work "holds up a mirror for us to see the present in, leaving us to contemplate not only the state of our own souls, but matters of justice and moral responsibility" (Jacki Apple's Performance / Media / Art / Culture)
Mat writes and composes for ensembles of cross-disciplinary performers that generate shifting visual, physical, and musical landscapes with bodies, voices, and instruments. He has created and presented original work in galleries, museums, and disused industrial spaces, as well as proscenium stages and on film. He first gained attention as LA's "most soulful interpreter of theological ideas" (Stage Raw) with The Temptation of St Antony, described as a “sensual, intellectual and vastly entertaining feast” (LA WEEKLY) that held audiences “in ecstatic thrall from start to finish” (Huffington Post). His ritual Katabasis (descent) through the underworld at the Getty Villa led audiences around the grounds and gardens of the museum in the style of the Eleusinian mysteries, and was heralded as a "brilliant postmodern opera" (FABRIK) that set "a high water mark for site-specific performance" (NoProscenium). His proscenium stage work includes Frankenstein, which swept the 2021 LA Ovation Awards across all categories, including awards for his Direction and for Best Play. His "breathtaking and terrifying" (NPR) theatrical adaptation tracks the text of Mary Shelley's prophetic novel alongside subsequent technological advancements, resulting in "a jaw-dropping combination of performance, stagecraft and technology that unites past and present in a spectral vision conveying the all-encompassing dread of a future mankind has created in its own image." (Los Angeles Blade). Before the pandemic Mat was a Creative Director for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's groundbreaking series SESSION, creating immersive and experiential accompaniments to new music programming, and a curator at Basic Flowers, the repurposed flower shop at the heart of downtown LA's independent art in the late 2010s.
Mat’s creative research centers around ancient ritual and performance cultures and their contemporary analogues. His new visual album / video anthology, hymns was recently selected by the Society for Classical Studies for its Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities program, and he frequently shares his research and practice with students, most recently as a guest lecturer in the Classics Department at UCLA, at CalArts, and at the University of LaVerne.
RECENT INTERVIEWS & LONG FORM CRITICISM: Washington Blade / Broadway World / Theatre Magazine / LA Stage Alliance / Arts Beat / Fabrik / Jacki Apple's Performance - Media - Art - Culture / RealTime / Alta Magazine / LA Times / Primitive Surveys / Arena Magazine