NEW YORK - In a display of raw talent, Hollywood A-listers Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo joined forces on the Upper West Side for a unique cause.
The duo participated in a no-frills reading of the play "This is Our Youth" at the historic West Park Presbyterian Church on 86th and Amsterdam.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, and Missy Yager attend The Center at West Park's "This Is Our Youth" benefit performance on November 16, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
They were alongside fellow stars Kyra Sedgwick, Kevin Bacon, Christian Slater, and Matt Dillon.
The play was written by Kenneth Lonergan. It debuted off-Broadway in 1996.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo onstage during The Center at West Park's "This Is Our Youth" benefit performance on November 16, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Mark Ruffalo and Missy Yager were in the original cast and reprised their roles for the show. Damon performed it in London.
To raise funds and prevent the 134-year-old church building from being transformed into just another multifamily structure, a fate all too common in New York City.
The star-studded event aimed to support West Park Presbyterian in its bid to preserve the building's historical significance.
The West Park Presbyterian Church. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Despite being designated historic, against the congregation's wishes in 2010, the church has struggled since 2007 to secure sufficient funds for essential repairs. Having reportedly spent a million dollars with insufficient results, the church leaders agreed to sell the property to Alchemy Properties in 2022 for mixed-use redevelopment.
The actors, under the banner of West Park Center, vehemently oppose this decision. Their vision is to purchase the building and transform it into a public theater or performance space, aligning with the current demand for such cultural venues.
The ruling elders of the church emphasize the urgent need for funds to continue their ministry, asserting the potential for significant positive impact with the proceeds.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Debby Hirshman, Missy Yager, Kenneth Lonergan, and Mark Brokaw attend The Center at West Park's "This Is Our Youth" benefit performance on November 16, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by
The stars involved share a deep connection to the Upper West Side and New York City, with Matt Damon having lived across the street from the church for five years.
To learn more about the fight to save the building visit centeratwestpark.org.
For more about the congregation's plans for the money they would get from the sale, visit westparkpresbyterian.org.