Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Planet Connections Interview - Jean Goto of Another Place

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Kim-Nora Moses
Photo: Jean Goto as Jenny in The Anthropologists' Give Us Bread

Name: Jean Goto
Play: Another Place
Relationship to production: Actor

How did you first get involved in theatre?

Getting involved in theatre was a gradual process for me. One big step, the first time I really connected to what acting could be, was when I participated in a Shakespeare Competition. The monologue I chose to do, Constance from King John, was layered and difficult, but I put a lot of energy, focus, and heart into it. I ended up winning my school, then the borough (the Bronx), then the city and then the state! For the National Competition all the participants had a whole weekend together and got to perform at Lincoln Center. Performing at Lincoln Center was awesome. At some point in the monologue I paused in between sentences and you could hear a pin drop. It was an epiphany- the audience was waiting to hear what was going to happen next! More than that, they were really listening to me! It was exhilarating and that feeling has inspired me to this day.

Who are your biggest influences?

John Goodman, Calvin and Hobbes, Anne Bogart, Yeasayers, Steve Jobs, my friend and business partner Kamara James, my mom.

What is Another Place about?

Our show is about the climate crisis and the space between intellectual comprehension and the human capacity for change. We'll be using scientific research, source materials, original writing and rigorous dramaturgy, combined with the company’s signature use of expressive text and stylized movement to explore this issue. We're currently looking at Christopher Columbus and his 'discovery' of the new world, using his story as a lens to examine our relationship with the environment.

What inspired you to perform in it?

The environment (nature) is the closest thing I have to holiness in my life. I wasn't raised in religion, but when I go out into nature I feel in awe of everything. As an artist it was essential that I use my craft to understand a little better where we are and how we got here - to try and get the whole picture of the situation we're in right now.

What made you want to perform in an eco-friendly theatre festival like Planet Connections?

Planet Connections is pretty awesome in that it walks the walk and talks the talk. It's really cool that the festival is about being eco-friendly, while attempting to actually be eco-friendly itself (which includes finding a way to get the shows themselves to be eco-friendly too!) That was a huge draw.

Planet Connections is fairly unique in that a portion of the box office for each show is donated to a charity. What charity have you chosen and why?

We've chosen to support the New York Restoration Project. They clean city parks, plant trees, restore community gardens and green New York City. They're one of the leaders of the MillionTreesNYC Project partnered with the City of New York. We're supporting their project because we think that what they're doing is awesome! Having trees, gardens, and nature in our lives is so important for everyone! Especially in New York City where it feels like we're all running around stressed out all the time!

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

We're still very much in the early phases of creation -- Another Place isn't going to be completed until April 2011! We'll be doing several things to help build the piece from here on out. We're hosting roundtables with experts and community stakeholders who work with the ensemble to vet ideas and provide information. We're also facilitating community workshops - Eco Action Events! - in each borough that unite environmental organizations and communities to use dialogue and theater games to explore issues surrounding climate change. And of course we'll be doing many developmental workshops of the show itself!

And finally, if you could go back in time and meet yourself as a kid, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself that life is about learning and that all the 'problems' and all things I react to are simply opportunities for becoming a better person. In many ways the 'problems' are the guideposts, showing me new information about myself and where I am... Or, as James Joyce puts it, "a man's errors are his portals of discovery."

Another Place
Written and Directed by Melissa F. Moschitto


Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission

Venue: The Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette Street, 3rd floor

Thurs 6/24 @ 2pm

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