Friday, November 16, 2007

Goats and Dreams

Ten years ago, I was in my early 20’s, just out of college and wanting desperately to do something more than just go to auditions and wait for my agent to call (typical daily life of an actor). goat show came out of an exercise in an acting class in which each person had to tell a story about their life. I had waited until everybody else in the class went, hoping that we’d run out of time before my turn came. My life was so boring – I hadn’t had any interesting adventures like these other people. When it came to be my turn I went up, not knowing what would come out of my mouth. What I said was, “I grew up on a goat farm…” And that was the beginning of a very long story.

Although I started writing the show about my own experiences, I soon learned that there was another story that had been going on around me that I, as a child, had been only vaguely aware of. The experience of becoming farmers and forming a goat’s milk company with their closest friends, and then having to leave all of that behind, has left an indelible mark on my parents. They are now in their 60’s, still married and still very invested in that marriage, but there are some scars and what is most important to me, not just as their daughter but as a person who also wants to have a long and satisfying relationship, is seeing how love can survive through those difficulties.

Ten years have passed since I first wrote and performed goat show and I am now the age that my parents were when their adventure in farming began. I am still pursuing my dream of being a theatre artist, a dream that has brought me to Iowa City from Toronto, Canada. While here I have met people that I want to form a company with, including the director of this show, Sean Lewis. Granted this is a theatre company, not a goat’s milk company, but in the large picture that seems like a small difference. The words I say on stage have developed another resonance; not only am I saying the imagined words my mother said to my father, I am saying the words I have said to Sean. To start a company in any business is a risk. It not only demands time and money (and lots of both) but a belief that all of this work is going to be worth something. This belief, this trust, is what will most likely to be battered by the realities of economics, trends, etc, but it is also this more than anything else that will get us through.

To a child, adults seem capable of anything; that they could doubt their decisions or make mistakes seems impossible. At the end of the show I talk about feeling “not grown up yet.” And that’s true – I still don’t, if feeling grown up is feeling sure. But I don’t know if I ever will feel grown up in that sense. Maybe being grown up isn’t about being sure; maybe it’s about believing in risks, in which case it’s closer to childhood than I thought. There’s a very satisfying circuitry behind goat show: to follow my dreams, I wrote a show about my parents following their dreams. Now I’m doing the show as part of a new company, as the next step of following my dreams. And maybe someday I’ll have a child who will be inspired by my story and will decide its worth the risk to follow their dreams.

-Jennifer Fawcett

goat show at Riverside Theatre runs November 23 - December 2. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Riverside Theatre box office at (319) 338-7672 or online at