Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Judith Goudsmit, Playwright

Judith Goudsmit holds an MFA in playwriting from the New School for Drama, which she received with a Steinberg scholarship. She has collaborated with Orkater, a prominent Dutch theatre company, on shows that were seen at the New Island festival on Governers Island and at The Parade festival in the Netherlands. Her plays and readings have been produced by The Shop Theatre, The New School for Drama, AENY (Spanish Artists in NY) and the Shelby Company and were performed on site specific locations across the city.
  • Our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It features two of your monologues: Being Late and Robot. What inspired you to write each of these pieces? Do you see either as being part of a larger piece? 
Being Late was a monologue that I had been wanting to write for a long time. As most of my friends and colleagues know, I’m late to pretty much everything. I’ve missed flights, trains, parties. The strange thing is that I don’t like being late, it’s not a pleasant feeling, and yet I can’t seem to shake it. That was a concept that I wanted to explore. As far as Robot goes, that just came about when I was doing a workshop about theatre and technology and we were forced to think a lot about technology and how it changed our ways of thinking and communicating. All these ‘smart’ objects we have in our lives are slowly but surely taking over certain tasks we used to do with our brains. It’s not so difficult anymore to imagine a world with robots, or programmed clones of ourselves. Both monologues were written as individual pieces, although I can imagine expanding Being Late into a longer play.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you want to start writing plays?
I always loved reading, and I think that’s where it all sort of started. When I just had email for the first time (strange to think of a world without it now) and I was figuring out its purpose, I started emailing a lot with one of my friends. One day he was upset about something and I wrote him a long elaborate story about a fantasy world where little creatures lived on a monkey’s nose. He wrote me a story back, and our stories became longer and longer and we did this for about a year. I think that was a defining moment, where I experienced both the pleasures of writing, as well as my writing providing some sort of enjoyment and entertainment for someone else. As I went on writing short stories outside of the email realm, they were always sort of theatrical with lots of dialogue and odd characters. The stage felt like the perfect place for those characters and their stories to live.
  • Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? What inspires you to get to the page? 
When I just started writing plays I read Albee’s Delicate Balance, which opened my eyes to the sort of plays I wanted to write. The humor and style of his writing spoke to me in a way not many other plays had. I grew up loving movies, so filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Roman Polanski have been influential in terms of style and atmosphere. When I get stuck or down about whatever I’m working on, I’ll read one of Pinter or Carol Churchill’s plays to remind me of how it’s done. Ideas for plays usually come from a feeling I have. A fear or a desire, a confusion, or anger about something. Then I try to encapsulate and extract that feeling and find the story or character that suit it best. That sounds rather mysterious and vague, because it is.
  • In terms of your creative process, do you have a particular schedule or ritual when it comes to writing? If so, can you share it with us? 
I wish I had more of a steady ritual, or process when writing, but unfortunately I’m not as disciplined as I would like to be. It’s always difficult to get started. As soon as I sit down to write I think of twenty other things I should or could be doing. Like clean my bathroom or go to the grocery store to buy a mango. I suppose that could be called a ritual too. But once I actually start writing, it’s like walking a tightrope. You don’t want anyone to distract you, or you might lose it. 
  • You grew up in Amsterdam and were active theatrically in the Netherlands. What was that like as opposed to the theatre scene in New York? Do you miss it? 
The theatre scene is very different in Holland due to the public funding. Theatre artists can experiment a lot more, and try out different things, since they’re not predominantly dependent on ticket sales like in New York. That has also been the source of a lot of debate in the Netherlands recently, because they are cutting a lot of funding. The right wing party’s argument is that the government spends all this money on shows no one is interested in seeing. It’s a fine line, because this funding also creates opportunity for some of the most interesting and talented writers and directors to create their vision without having to worry about the audience. I do miss that at times in New York, where theatre tends to be very realistic, both in form and directing style, mimicking television or film. It’s been very interesting working both in Amsterdam and New York, because I’ve learned different things from both communities.
  • Can you tell us a bit about other projects you are working on right now? 
This summer I will be working with Orkater (A Dutch theater company) and five American actors, whom I met at the New School for Drama, on an interactive show about emigration. It will be part of a prominent Dutch theatre festival, Over t’IJ, and will include a boat ride, a walking tour, and a spectacle in a big warehouse. Besides that I am working on my own play, which is based on something that happened to my cousin last year. I like the combination of doing my own writing project and collaborating with other theatre artists on something. Keeps loneliness and insanity at bay.

    1 comment:

    Fwaals said...

    Wonderful insight thank you very much! F