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The Jester Interview: Katie Goan

In August, the comedic play “Kidnapped by Craigslist” ran at the People’s Improv Theater (see 8/18/07 review), and its co-creator, Katie Goan, has plans underway for productions of the show in other cities, including Austin, Texas, where she went to college. “Craigslist” is culled from and inspired by ads in the popular website that serves as an online version of classified ads. While Goan performed in the New York productions, she prefers writing and directing, and plans to cast the touring version of the show with local actors in each city, as well as revising the show in each city to draw from Craigslist ads from the site’s pages for that city. Jester spoke with Goan about the evolution of “Craigslist.”

Katie Goan: In touring of ‘Kidnapped by Craigslist,’ the first stop will be Austin, Texas, because I know a lot of people there and all my friends are there producing and directing theater. So two of my friends from Austin came to see the show and are very excited about producing it. That will probably be the first leg of its future in development, substituting in Austin postings from Craigslist and do a show there. We’re thinking of a late night show in a cabaret space or something like that. Eventually we want to do Seattle, San Francisco and all the places where Craigslist originated.

Jester: Do the postings say the same or have they changed throughout the runs of the show?
KG: So far it’s been the same because we’ve only done New York. All the postings are from the New York site. The postings are from over the past two years. We started doing the show about two and a half years ago, and some of the postings are as recent as three months ago.

J: Are you adding postings to the show?
KG: We stopped doing that because we needed to solidify that particular show. But we’re always looking for new postings from new cities, because we always want to make the show about where we’re going to perform. Hopefully, you get a very New York feel from this show. In Austin, we’ll put in more rockabilly type music, with a country and western twang kind of sound; obviously we’ll have no subway-related postings.

The whole carnival aspect of the show -- the carnival barker’s speeches and introductions to carnival-type attractions, will all stay the same. All we have to do is look for postings from Austin about love and sex and put that into the Tunnel of Love section, and postings that are rants and raves to put in the dunking booth section. Much of it will stay the same but the postings will change.

J: Are you and the cast that recently did it going to be in other performances?
KG: I’m not sure. In Austin, it will be an Austin cast. In a perfect world, once we get a substantial amount of money, I would love to have one company that goes all over to do it. The show is always changing and evolving though, so it will be interesting to see what other people do with it.

J: It’s been running for two and a half years. How has it evolved?
KG: We did a workshop at the PIT one year ago, last June. We flew in a director from L.S.U. It was just a cast of three people -- Nitra, the co-writer, myself and a friend of ours. For about a month … the postings started off with a large stack and boiled it down to the 20 or 30 that are in the show. It’s a matter of finding out what fits together the best and how you can represent Craigslist the best way.

J: How does a particular posting inspire you to write it into the show?
KG: We thought the carnival theme made it into a show. At first we were just pulling postings that we thought were interesting, funny or sad, or just were different types of people -- something that had a definite angle to it. Then, from going through a large stack, you think these people are freaks, but they’re not. They’re actually you and me -- this person could be a librarian who is the most introverted person you ever met, yet she’s complaining about her boss and cussing him out and talking about how she wants to seduce him. So then we start seeing the difference between who people are in real life and how they portray themselves. That’s when we realized it was a carnival theme, with the “Rants & Raves” section being the dunking booth and the “Missed Connections” being the Tunnel of Love. That’s how we were inspired to put it into the show.

Then we added the music, which we thought would be exciting and cool. A lot of what is on the stage (in the recent version of the show) in the fluidity is from Kimmy (Gatewood). She’s the most unbelievable director I’ve ever worked with; she’s fantastic. She really tied it all together, made it flow and made it the piece that it is.

J: I think of direction as visual as in film, but in this world it often involves tightening up the writing and the organization of what’s presented. What are the differences?
KG: For anything about the writing, Kimmy comes to me. Because we went from a 90-minute show to a 56-minute show, and now I can’t even imagine it that long because now it’s under an hour.

So a lot of the characterizations are Kimmy’s ideas because your first instinct when doing something like this is to push it and be angry. You want to be the angriest person you can think of and conjure up. She said, ‘No, why don’t you play against the anger and make it humorous or touching or charming.’ She helped us to play against the character to actually make these people believable.

J: So it is some directing of the acting?
KG: Yes, a lot of acting and a lot of staging. The stage pictures themselves were all Kimmy and a lot of the music too.




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