The following material has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Alex Goodman, the managing director of New Village Arts, joined Bret Schanzenbach on the Carlsbad People, Purpose, and Impact Podcast to discuss the exciting things happening at the theater. They talk about Alex’s journey from the Midwest to California, the innovative ways New Village Arts is connecting with the community and the upcoming original musicals that you will definitely want to see during their 20th anniversary season.
Making Art Happen: Alex Goodman’s Journey to New Village Arts
Having grown up in Detroit, MI, Alex Goodman has music in his blood. In high school, he dreamt of being an actor and went on to perform in a variety of shows in college. Eventually, Alex moved from Detroit to Chicago where his passion for the theater not only led him to perform, it also prompted him to start a theater company. According to Alex, “It was the first time that I didn’t make art, but I made art happen.”
After he produced some shows, he landed an internship with the Steppenwolf Theater Company, a world-renowned Broadway-producing theater. This internship opened the door for Alex to become the first full-time managing director of Straw Dog Theater, a small storefront theater in Chicago. “It was very ‘trial by fire’ kind of situation,” Alex says, “I was their first full-time staff member.”
In order to become even better at his craft, Alex went to grad school at Wayne State University where he eventually met his wife. In fact, they both received an internship at the University of California San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse, which was founded by Gregory Peck, Mel Ferrer, and Dorothy McGuire.
Like so many visitors to San Diego, once Alex had a taste of the area, he had to stay. He has served as the managing director of New Village Arts for the past six years. Two years ago, he and his wife became foster parents and also had their first biological child this past December. With so many kids to love and care for, Alex is grateful to raise his family in beautiful Southern California where they can serve their community through the performing arts.
Welcome to the Show: Renovations for the Theater
In 2000, New Village Arts began at a chicken coop in McGee Park. Then, they found a temporary location at a jazzercise facility until they eventually settled into their home on 2787 State St. where they have been for the past 15 years.
When Alex Goodman joined the theater, they had exciting conversations about the long-term future of the organization and how they make their space more professional. Since launching their renovation program in 2018, they have raised 80% of their $2.5 million goal. Their vision is to retain the intimate design of the theater, as they update the stage, lighting, sound, lobby, and classrooms.
Because New Village Arts is a non-profit that actively engages and serves the community, Alex says that one of the most exciting aspects of the renovation is that it will ensure the theater is a space where everyone feels welcome. In the past, they have hosted the Carlsbad Village Merchants’ monthly meetings and graduation ceremonies. They are eager to continue to make themselves more available to the community by expanding their lobby, so that there will be a larger performance space to host local singer-songwriters, open mic nights, stand-up comedians, and more.
These renovations will also allow New Village Arts to provide a better learning environment for their students. They offer classes for young children and adults, and have extensively expanded their programs for the neuro-diverse community this past year. The theater is excited to continue to enhance and expand their classes as they move forward with this renovation program.
The Show Must Go On: New Village Arts’ Response to COVID
New Village Arts’ investment in the community is evident in how they responded to the pandemic last year. When the COVID pandemic hit, they immediately contacted their artists and performers and asked them a very simple, yet powerful question: “What would you like to do?”
The theater got a Zoom account and utilized Facebook Live to offer intimate performances. “We ended up doing cooking shows,” Alex explains. “We did dance classes. We did illustration classes. We just kind of asked everybody, ‘What’s something that you want to share with the world that would be engaging and interesting?’ And people showed up with some really interesting ideas.” All of this content was free to the public and is still available on Facebook and their website.
As they adapted to the pandemic and as restrictions lessened, the theater explored options so that they could continue connecting with a live audience in 2021. They looked at the possibility of making a drive-in production in a parking lot or a park, but due to the technological expenses, they were not able to put that into effect. However, instead of being set back by this, they entered into a partnership with Carlsbad Flower Fields, which in Alex’s words, “Has been phenomenal… Not only did we begin this process with a gorgeous backdrop, we were able to activate that space in a way that they were not otherwise using it.”
Historically, Carlsbad Flower Fields has not operated after sunset, but now, New Village Arts comes onto the scene once the sun goes down. Similar to their early days in McGee Park, they built their own stage, used their own equipment, and began small, two-person weekend performances. Alex credits this endeavor with catalyzing their current original musical, Beehive, which highlights music from the 1960s. In this production, the audience can experience a celebration of women in music as they hear the songs that were originally by Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Janis Joplin.
Beehive runs until July 25th. Tickets are available at newvillagearts.org.
Upcoming Performances at New Village Arts
In March 2020, New Village Arts had planned to have a gala at the Army-Navy Academy to celebrate and fundraise for their 20th anniversary season. However, they decided to have their 20th anniversary season this year, and to launch that, they held a charity golf tournament at the El Camino Country Club. Through this event, they were able to engage a broader audience and raised $15,000.
Although they have not officially announced their upcoming season, Alex shared information about two original plays that will be released this season. The first play is a holiday musical, 1222 Ocean Front: HOME, A Black Family Christmas, which is a story about an African-American family’s Christmas experience in Carlsbad. This play will be released in time for the holiday season.
The second play is called Desert Rock Garden, which was written by local playwright, Roy Sekigahama, about the Japanese internment camps in California. This play came out of New Village Arts’ Final Draft New Play Festival.
Visit New Village Arts’ website, so you can grab tickets and see their excellent live performances!
Click here to get tickets for Beehive!
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Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit Imagine Podcasting at https://www.imaginepodcasting.com/.