A Return to Live Theater: Rick Goodwin

Rick Goodwin recalls the exact moment he decided to write his first full-length play. The retired magazine publisher from Bucks County, Pa., was sitting in a hotel room in Evanston, Illinois, a small town just north of Chicago and home to Goodwin’s alma mater, Northwestern University. It was seven years ago. He was 59 years old. The play that had been floating around in his head was still there, in his head. “I said to myself, ‘You better get started,’” he relays.

Rick Goodwin

Get started he did, and he didn’t stop until “Bleeding in Black and White” was nearly complete. “I worked on the play regularly for the next three to four years. And then COVID hit,” he notes. During the pandemic, when theaters went dark, Goodwin tweaked the play here and there until he was fully satisfied with the result. It was the culmination of years of hard work, real-life inspiration and a true passion for the storyline.

Phillips’ Mill is presenting his original play July 14-17, 2022, as part of its Premiere Showcase series, a program started in 2018 to bring never-before-performed plays to the stage. Set in 1999, “Bleeding in Black and White” is the story of an HIV-positive hemophiliac who lives with his mother, sister and grandmother. As the result of a freak accident, the main character meets someone who helps him move past the tragedy that has plagued him for 15 years. However, his struggle to move forward and embrace the possibility of love once again reopens old wounds that could tear the whole family apart.

“I am so excited to finally be able to put it out in the world,” he adds. “It’s so important to see how an audience reacts to your work, to see if your vision works. It gives you a chance to make some tweaks and rewrite a few lines.” Goodwin is also producing and directing the show. It is certainly not the first time he has done either. He had worked as an actor, director and producer off- and off-off Broadway before beginning a career in publishing. In recent years he has returned to his theatrical roots, adding playwriting to his resume.

“I have always been interested in theater. As a kid, I would perform in the garage. My sister and I would put up little chairs, the way kids do. Of course I dreamed of being a famous actor,” he laughs. 

Goodwin went on to study theater and oral interpretation of literature at Northwestern University and briefly pursued a career in acting. “It didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t cut out for acting; I didn’t have what it took to make it. I did some off-off Broadway producing and other behind-the-scenes work. I look back on it now and smile.”

Over the years, he helped build a very successful, nationwide luxury real estate publishing brand, yet ideas kept popping into his head about plays he wanted to write. “I like the whole idea of crafting a story through dialogue. I think I write pretty good dialogue, so it was a natural progression to explore playwriting. I also like directing. It is like orchestrating and directing a symphony. When all the parts work together, it’s a wonderful feeling.”

He looks forward to bringing all the feels to Phillips’ Mill. “There was a time I was wondering, ‘Are we ever going to have live theater again?’ While it was great to be able to carry on virtually, there is nothing like being in front of an audience experiencing your work at the same place at the same time,” he says. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s a great thing to be able to direct your work’s first showcase production.”

Rick is a founding member of the Playwrights’ Bridge and is also a member of the Dramatists Guild. Prior to directing “Bleeding in Black and White,” his work in local theater includes:

  • Writing the one-act plays “Uncommon Ground” and “Socially Active,” which were seen at the “New Voices” Festival at the Bucks County Playhouse in 2015 and 2016 
  • Writing “Home Smarts,” which was seen at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in 2018 
  • Reading plays in various Bucks County productions
  • Directing “Reckonings in New Hope,” a play by Chris Canaan for ActorsNET of Bucks County

When he is not writing, directing, producing and volunteering at various local theater groups, Goodwin, who is recently remarried, enjoys traveling, taking care of his three dogs and doing work around the couple’s new home in Solebury.

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Illustration of the Phillips' Mill -Artist: Kathie Jankauskus