Originally from New Orleans, and now a resident of New York City, playwright, director, actor and poet Melanie Maria Goodreaux will perform her original solo show, “Rita is the Goat,” at The Foundry in West Stockbridge, Friday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 15.
The new solo show, which has been described as dark, funny and poetic, is being co-produced by The Foundry and Dramatic Question Theatre, which develops plays by women and people of color that deal with race, culture and class. It is being directed by Brooklyn-based director, producer and writer Heather Harvey.
The play is described as "a fantastical reimagining of a mundane last will and testament reading, a family at odds, poorly placed crawdad juice, a fallen matriarch, a legacy in question and a sibling rivalry so fraught it raises the dead." Goodreaux developed the show during her fellowship with Dramatic Question Theatre's ongoing series, "American Woman."
Goodreaux recently took the time to answer a few of our questions.
1 What inspired you to do a solo show? What excites you about it?
I was working as part of a particular project with Dramatic Question Theatre to create a solo piece. I am a playwright that normally works with many different actors and many different characters, so it was a challenge, which makes it very exciting. I am normally in the writer and director seat, and this time I will be performing. It’s almost like an expansion from my other roles as a dramatist. So it will be pretty interesting for me to give life to characters that I would normally dole out to different actors.
2. How much of the play is based on real life? What kind of artistic liberties did you take?
It’s all fictional, and it’s all embellished. Most of the time, [my writing] is based on a feeling or a theme that is bubbling up inside of me. It’s fantastical in a way that, when you come to the show, you’ll see it. The truth is that the themes are real to me — the themes of loss, of people having to survive — that’s based on something real. The play reaches all the normal emotions that we experience as real people: a certain amount of covetous, a certain amount of sibling rivalry, abandonment and loss. The whole play is based on true feelings and some pretty wild, fantastical events.
3 What roles do race and gender play in this piece?
I normally deal with race and gender right up front. This is actually one of my plays that doesn’t really deal with race as head-on as my other plays do, but it’s implicit in the language of the characters. The cadences of the characters come from my southern roots. As far as gender is concerned, there’s a certain part of the play that deals with how a woman may or may not feel about having children. So whereas one character really wants to have children but cannot have children, one character has children and has many complicated feelings about that. So in that way it deals with gender.
4 How are you able to combine all your passions and talents in this one piece?
As a playwright, I feel like my characters speak poetically. I feel like I don’t have to deal with any limits as far as my language is concerned. People from the South tend to bend and use language in ways that are so descriptive and flexible and hilarious that I feel like it’s not a far cry for my characters to speak poetically. I flower some of the language with different poetic devices like alliteration and rhyme and rhythm. All of that exists in the way that I approach playwriting.
It’s kind of nice for me to sit back and watch Heather Harvey be the director this time, but it definitely is in my mind because it gives me a certain amount of being open and gentle to myself as the actor and the performer. It’s kind of like a role reversal for me, and I’m fascinated by that process.
5 What kind of project would you like to pursue next?
I have two things that are coming up for me; I’m really passionate about turning some of my stage plays into film scripts, and I’m also really interested in completing a novel that I’m working on because I’ve written lots of plays and lots of poems, but I would really like to put that first novel behind me.