Internationally renowned Dance-Theater artist Joe Goode brings his distinct style of “embodied” playwriting to the creation of a newly developed work with UC Berkeley students, titled Deviations. Guided by Goode, the student ensemble is co-creating the performance through investigation of what it means to deviate from the norm. The work, featuring Goode’s trademark narrative that seamlessly blends dance, song and spo
ken word, will premiere at the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies on November 12.
“How does it feel to be the one excluded, to make a decision about the direction you are going that is different from the direction that everyone else is going in?” asks Goode. “This is so important in terms of understanding differences and participating in a society with divergent points of view.”
Goode is helping the students find the emotional center of divergence through a series of writing and dance assignments, which form the basis of the work Goode will ultimately use to craft the script. In one assignment, he asks students to outline what two spirits would tell each other upon meeting in a graveyard. In another, he asks them to describe a time when they have keenly experienced a feeling of loss, both profound and banal. Answers to this second question have ranged from the profound (a family member) to the banal (a favorite pen); Goode will combine and contrast these heavy and comical responses within Deviations, highlighting his unique ability to balance the significance of one topic with the lightness of another.
This intimately shared devising process is rewarding for both Goode and the student performers. The young actors, many of whom have not written for the stage, are learning valuable lessons in creating ensemble work and performing with the authenticity an audience can connect with. Goode learns from the students as well. “They are not afraid of direct answers, “ he says. “They don’t have the armor that we old people have – they are still open to experience. I love that.”
Goode, a professor with the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, has previously partnered with TDPS to present productions of Disaster Series and Dead Boys. He is a choreographer, writer, and director widely known as an innovator in the field of dance for his willingness to collide movement with spoken word, song, and visual imagery. The Joe Goode Performance Group, formed in 1986, tours regularly throughout the U.S., and has toured internationally to Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Goode was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007, and the United States Artists Glover Fellowship in 2008. In 2006 he directed the opera Transformations for the San Francisco Opera Center. His play Body Familiar, commissioned by the Magic Theatre in 2003, was met with critical acclaim.
Goode’s performance-installation works have been commissioned by the Fowler Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles, Krannert Art Museum, the Capp Street Project, the M.H. de Young Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. His dance theater work has been commissioned by Pennsylvania Ballet, Zenon Dance Company, AXIS Dance Company and Dance Alloy Theater among others. Goode and his work have been recognized by numerous awards for excellence including the American Council on the Arts, the New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie), and Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (Izzies).
UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies presents:
DEVIATIONS by Joe Goode & UC Berkeley Students
Directed by Joe Goode
November 12, 13, 19, 20 at 8pm; October 14, 21 at 2pm
Durham Studio Theater, UC Berkeley Campus
Tickets: $15.00 and $10.00
Tickets available through the TDPS Ticket Office at the Zellerbach Playhouse, at 510-642-8827 to charge by phone, at tdps.berkeley.edu, and at the door for that day’s performance.
Photo Credit: Photography by Eddie Wright.