Recently while perusing Facebook, which is often a great source for stories I enjoy telling, I noticed a post by actor Matt Goodrich. He posted that was leaving Manhattan to return home to Indy which he left nearly four years ago to study in NYC.
Goodrich, 30, is a 2009 graduate of Wabash College. Crawfordsville, Ind., from which he received a B.A. in Liberal arts (Theatre/Psychology). His acting credits include: “Tribes,” and “Norway” at Phoenix Theatre; “Macbeth,” “Closer,” and ” 4.48 Psychosis” at NoExit Performance; “The Pillowman” at Paper Strangers”: and “Twelfth Night” at Acting Up Productions. Goodrich’s film credits include features “Suck It Up Butter Cup” and “Joker’s Poltergeist,” and shorts “Alone With Company” and “School Pays.”
Once again, while on Facebook, I noticed that Goodrich had moved back to this hometown, so I reached out to him and requested an interview. Recently we met at a Broad Ripple coffee house where we caught up about his activities while living in NYC, his reason for returning to Indy and his upcoming appearance in “The Beast, the Beauty and the Sanguine Man,” a spoof of 20s era silent films. Directed by Ryan Mullins, the play, written by Bennett Ayres, will be reprised by NoExit Performance during the 2017 IndyFringe Theatre Festival. Brought back by popular demand, the show was a hit during the 2014 IndyFringe. Below is an edited transcript of my interview with Goodrich.
Are you back for good?
For the foreseeable future, yes.
What brings you back?
There were a couple of things that came up, financial and creative. It suddenly made a lot more sense for me to come back to Indy.
What’s it like being back home?
Everything is the same as much as everything is different. Some of my best friends are still here. Some of the institutions, creative and otherwise are still here. But how those puzzle pieces fit together is very different, including the lay of the land and the talent that is here now.
How long were you in NYC?
Just a little over three and a half years.
What took you to NYC and what did you do there?
I went to NY to pursue training. I had never had acting training or more specifically, technique training. Lacy Marie Meyer with whom I did the film “Suck It Up Buttercup,” was an Indianapolis actor as well. After doing the film she attended the William Esper Studio in NYC and said, “I think this is for you.” and so I checked it out. She was right.
Give me a description of that technique?
I was lucky enough to take classes with William Esper. We all call him Bill. He made it clear that we are Esper-trained in the Meisner Technique. He put more structure or scaffolding around something that is practical but theoretical. The Meisner Technique, is “doing truthfully, imaginative circumstances.” is a nutshell. The idea is simply that when you are brushing your teeth, you are not acting like you are brushing your teeth, you are doing it. And when you see someone acting like they are brushing their teeth and someone brushing their teeth you just feel the difference. You know the difference intuitively and that is what they are suggesting all your acting should be—it should be something that you are doing and building up that imaginary muscle and a few other pillars of the Meisner technique. Another of them is your connection with another actor—being focused on them. Getting out of your head. Anti- intelligence. I studied for two years in the acting technique program. My second year, I did movement I & II. They were developed in process with the first and second years so there is a lot of the same language technique used. I did that for the final year I was there. And then I stayed over and did a few classes afterwards.
Did the training transform you?
There is a comfort in knowing exactly what I am attempting to do. I now understand the tools at my disposal whereas before I was working from my own kind of sense of truth. But it was very raw and once I was given structure for that, it also increased my confidence.
After your training did you have a chance to try out your tools?
A little bit. And as my teachers like to say, it takes 20 years to master this technique. It takes two years to learn to use what is in your tool box but it takes 20 years playing with those tools to be a real master. I did a little bit. I got to do a couple of short films. I got to do a site-specific play. It was a George Bernard Shaw play, a very stylized period piece but.
What exactly was it that brought you back to Indy?
There is a lot to be focused on. The business of acting and getting to do it was not as much of an option. I began to kick around the idea of coming back and work with old friends. It just became clear that I could accomplish more creatively in Indy. I have roots and connections in both places now and I think it is neither here nor there. With as small as the world is today, I think that is what a lot of people are trying to do is web out. I am doing things for myself here that will make me more autonomous in the future and more able to focus on my art. That is the decision I made because it works for me. There is a massive grey area when it comes to the right answer on how to pursue being an artist. It is really has to do with what works for you but some lose sight of what that is.
Where did you live in New York?
I was in Jersey for a brief time and then moved to Manhattan.
How was the experience of living in the city?
Exhilarating. It’s kind of an open playing field. All the best and the worst things can happen to you in a seemingly endless metropolis. Somedays I hid in my room. When you are out there, it something you must feed off. You protect yourself. It’s a forge of humanity. The longer I was there with my training, I think informed my perspective. I was much less worried about my immortality and more concerned with my day to day happiness because I am not immortal and that is kind of what I was pursuing. I don’t think you are going to be artistically fulfilled. If it’s a job, that is one thing but that is not why I went out there in the first place
Did you meet many people who inspired you?
Endless. Absolutely. Everybody took the art very seriously. In a lot of ways, there is a higher level of common language. I got to talk to people who had been in the business for decade. Some people I met are legends. That’s part of the energy that is NY.C There is constant inspiration if you allow it.
Were you aware of the changing cultural landscape here?
Yes, from conversations I had with people back here. I am looking forward to experiencing it myself. There’s a ton of buzz and a lot of growth happening here. There are lots of ideas floating out there that people are tossing around. I think is very descriptive of what is happening in this city.
Will you be returning to NYC regularly?
I have artists there that I trust, that I respect and want to work with again. The way I see it, I have two pools. I have two networks that I get to work with as an artist so I feel very lucky.
Where are you living now?
I’m in transition. I am looking at some property in Indy.. There is a ton of residential growth on the southside, such as in Fountain Square. It’s very fertile here. I am very excited to be back.
I take it you want to act in both films and theatre?
Absolutely. In fact, most of the work I have done of late, has been film. Why limit yourself? All arts kind of inform one another. You are literally going to strengthen yourself the more avenues you give yourself.
Are you going to work only with NoExit or with others as well?
That has been one of the more exciting things about coming back because I want to figure out how I can get back into the Indy theatre scene coming back. I want to work with everyone not primarily with one company over another. I maybe want to do some of my own stuff. I will see what the future holds.
Why is NoExit reprising “The Lady, the Beast and the Sanguine Man?”
It was a show that everybody, really, really loved. Those of us making it are love it. We’re very proud of it. A silent movie on stage. This time I will be playing the Sanguine man. The first time I was Abraham, the Beast.
How are rehearsals going?
Excellent. There a real positive energy and a real sense of play.
What can you tell my readers about “The Beast? The Lady and The Sanguine Man?”
You are going to see something that is a specialty of NoExit which is a visual feast. It’s something I have never heard of or seen before and it is a lot of fun. You’ll see a silent film come to life on stage and this time we have a mostly new cast made up of different personalities, different creative sources. It’s going to be kind of like Indy is to me right now—the same but not the same at all.
For tickets to “The Beast, The Lady and The Sanguine Man” by Bennett Ayres, visit noexitperformance.org Performance dates and times at Theatre on the Square are:
Friday, Aug 18 – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug 19 – 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug 22 – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, Aug 24 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug 26 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug 27 – 4:30 p.m.