Interview with a Playwright: Idris Goodwin
Idris Goodwin is an innovative playwright with strikingly relevant plays, many of which cover aspects of life as an African-American in modern America. He is the Producing Artistic Director of Stage One Family Theater in Louisville, Kentucky. He also has authored many books as well, coining the term “break beat poet.”
Playscripts: How did you initially become interested in playwriting?
Goodwin: I’ve always been hip to live performance and language. All my heroes are preachers, rappers, comedians, and other “real time” wordsmiths. It was the energy and collaborative ethos of playwriting that drew me in.
This play (Blackademics) is an interesting look at the dynamics of race in modern America. How were you inspired to create this piece?
I was living in Iowa City, Iowa at the time, home of The University of Iowa. I was surrounded by academics in the midst of corn and humidity. It wrote itself really.
A very interesting theme you explore is Georgia’s point system in the play and the literal fight for a seat at the table. What does this represent to you and how is it reflective of modern day academic discourses?
It doesn’t just apply to academia. People on the so called margins but particularly African-Americans are wanted in the room but rarely given the agency to really affect/define a space–which is to say–more than a seat at the table. What if we created the room?
Blackademics harkens to the emerging genre of movies like the film Get Out with surreal but shockingly realistic portrayals of the black narrative in America. Where do you envision this new form of storytelling going?
Yo, I wrote Get Out before Get Out! I love that movie though so I’m not mad. I think this is not a new form of storytelling actually. The roots of black story are rooted in the supernatural, metaphorical and allegorical. And I don’t have to talk about our relationship to psychological terror. Hitchcock ain’t got nothin’ on us!
Do you have any advice for aspiring playwrights?
Goodwin: See plays, read plays, develop an interest in other forms of writing and art and bring those into the realm of theatre along with the specifics of your culture, community and ancestors.
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