Get to know the faculty and staff of the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts
by Hadiyah Weaver
Lindsay Goss is more than just a Theater Studies professor. As a theater historian, performance theorist, and theater artist; Goss’s work never ends. Having earned her PhD in Theater and Performance Studies from Brown University, and her BA in English Literature from Macalester College, she is no stranger to hard work. Dr. Goss shared information about her recent production, her research projects and her background in improv. Let’s get to know her better.
What has been your favorite show that you’ve worked on to date?
As a theater artist, I’ve been focusing more on making devised work over the last few years. I’ve been collaborating with Nicholas Ridout, a professor at Queen Mary University of London, and last year we made what is probably my favorite piece of theater I’ve helped to create so far. It was titled “quite the best news in some considerable time: rinse and repeat version” and it was actually based on a previous work we’d made in response to political events in Greece in January 2015.
At that time, the rise of the left-wing coalition SYRIZA seemed like a hopeful development, and our original piece was a meditation on SYRIZA’s victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections and our feelings of excitement about it. And it was about other things, like the relationship between “coolness” and enthusiasm. By the summer of 2016, when we developed and presented our “rinse and repeat version” of the work in London, circumstances in Greece had changed for the worse and we wanted to think about what it means to look back on a moment of hope and excitement and to insist upon the legitimacy of having felt that way then, regardless of what we know and feel now. And we connected this set of ideas to how time and presence work in the theater—how ideas about “here” and “now” are always necessarily complicated in the theater. This all sounds very serious and high-concept, but in fact it was quite funny and warm. I loved that piece. My goal now is for the next work we make to be just as good or better.
What are you working on now?
My other “new work” is a book project, which I’m wrapping up. It covers the history and impact of the FTA, an anti-war variety show organized by Jane Fonda that toured to tens of thousands of active-duty soldiers during the height of the Vietnam War. By 1971, when the show was created, there was massive GI movement organizing to try and stop the war, with soldiers protesting, refusing to fight, and disrupting the military’s ability to function. It’s an incredible history, and I use the show as a way to think about how that movement (and political movements more generally) relied on all kinds of practices we associate with theater and acting.
When is your birthday and what is your astrology sign?
My birthday is in September, and I’m a Virgo. I don’t know much about astrology, so I am taking a moment to look up what Virgos are supposed to be like. And wow, yes, much of it seems to fit. That’s sort of unnerving. I’m often quite detail oriented and analytical, and I like organization. Though the source I’m looking at says Virgos like healthy food. I like healthy food in theory, but in practice I would always rather have something covered in butter or cheese.
How do you like Philadelphia so far?
Great! I’m really enjoying being in a city, but one that isn’t quite as exhausting as New York, where I was living last year. I’m just starting to become familiar with the theater scene, and realizing there is always so much happening.
Have you had your first cheesesteak yet? If so, from where?
Yes. It was one of those two places that are right across from each other.
What’s your favorite play of all time? Favorite playwright?
This is tough. I don’t think I have one. I’ve seen a lot of productions lately that I’ve really loved—Germinal, by L’Amicale de Production, which I wrote about for TDR/The Drama Review, and Employee of the Year by 600 Highwaymen. Neither of those are really plays though, in a traditional sense.
I’m currently re-reading Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo since we’re covering it in my Intro to Process course, and I’m reminded just how much I like Brecht’s poetry. I appreciate so many different plays for so many different reasons. My favorite is probably going to be whichever one I’m teaching or writing about at the moment.
What is your favorite food?
I will always be happy to eat good bread.
What is your favorite memory from college?
I have a lot of them--I really enjoyed college. Some of my best memories come from my involvement in Macalester’s improv/sketch comedy group “Fresh Concepts.” (A name that predated my time there, and that apparently was chosen because there was a neon sign that said “Fresh Concepts” hanging over the condiments bar in the cafeteria. It’s a horrible name.)
We would do an event each year called “24 Hour Improv”, which is, of course, exactly what it sounds like: we had to do improv comedy continuously for twenty-four hours. We’d occupy a dorm lounge, and, as it got into the early hours of the morning and we became completely punch-drunk with exhaustion, we’d start to (or believe that we had started to) do some of our best work. I remember that there was a piano in the lounge, and we’d do entirely improvised musicals, and sometimes they’d be kind of brilliant. But of course nobody recorded them, which is probably just as well.
Next semester Dr. Goss teaches Intro to Theater Process and Theater History II.