fb-pixel Skip to main content

Idris Goodwin, playwright with an ear to the streets

Idris Goodwin.

Age: 35

Hometown: Grew up in Detroit, became an artist in Chicago.

Think of: An aspiring August Wilson with a different kind of flow.

What caught our eye: Goodwin's "How We Got On," at Company One through Aug. 17, follows three Midwestern teens trying to find their voices in hip-hop in 1988. It's the start of what Goodwin plans as a "break beat trio" of plays.

Light-bulb moment: "I wrote my very first play, called 'Braising,' and it went up in the back of, like, a coffee shop with about 50 seats, and it was on a double bill. This play was sort of thrown together and done on a budget of about $15, and miraculously we got a good review. And that was all it took."


Biggest thrill: "For a theatergoer to say, 'We're not going to go to the movies, we're not going to watch Netflix, we're not going to do all the other fun, awesome things we can do, but we're going to go watch this play performed.' The fact that that happens based on something I wrote is a thrill. That's the payoff. . . . And I never take that for granted."

Biggest surprise: "I'm very surprised at how inclusive [the theater community] has been to me recently, due to 'How I Got On.' When I finally said, 'OK, I'm just going to do the sort of play I want to see,' since then I've been surprised not only by the response to the play, but by the doors that have opened to me because of it.

Inspired by: "My family definitely. The playwright Lorraine Hansberry, the playwright August Wilson, Chuck D of Public Enemy."

Aspires to: "A lot of writers write for Broadway. I want my plays to be all over the country. I want to really cover the map."


For good luck: "I find an image that represents the world of the play that I'm working on, and I make that the wallpaper on my laptop. I just completed a piece about Cassius Clay, so I spent an entire morning just looking for pictures of boxing rings."

What people should know: "My second career that I want to get into much further down the road is I want to become a line cook or something, totally shift gears and just cook for a living."

Coming soon: "Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band," second in the break beat trio, being developed with Denver Center Theatre Company.

Links: www.idrisgoodwin.blogspot.com, www.companyone.org


Joel Brown can be reached at jbnbpt@gmail.com