Interview with Ghost's Idris Goodwin
My name is Tyler Bey and I am a member of the Alliance Theatre’s Teen Ensemble. The Teen Ensemble is a group of artistically-inquisitive and creatively-passionate teenagers from across Atlanta who meet several times a month for various artistic endeavors. Idris Goodwin’s play, Ghost, an adaptation of the Jason Reynolds book of the same name, invites opportunity for conversation centering around black unity and brings it to the forefront. The community and connectedness that comes with finding your team is vital to understanding our battle with the divisive factors currently at play in America. Here are a few questions concerning the upcoming show Ghost that we had for Idris:
What’s the process like for translating a text from book to stage?
Jason Reynold's writing is vibrant. It was a real pleasure translating to the stage. In drama we look for characters making strong choices and Castle certainly does so often which leads to complex cross roads. The hardest part of adapting this book was actually figuring out what I could fit inside a 75 minute time frame.
In the context of your use of running as a metaphor in the text, do black people, especially black men ever stop running?
Its so eloquently laid out in the book, the question: are you running from something or are you running toward something. There's a moment when Castle says "I'm afraid of myself I guess" and Coach responds "Trouble is, you can't outrun yourself, nobody's that fast." Running is used literally and metaphorically in the story in a way that of course resonates with those of us who live in African American bodies but its a very universal question that I think we all have to answer: are we running away in fear or running toward with courage?
What would have happened to Castle had he never found his team?
In my adaptation/script I chose to have the same actor play both Castle's father and Coach. The reason I did that is because I want to show that these are 2 men who probably have similar backgrounds who made different choices. They're flipsides. When the book begins Castle is clearly bright and funny but also still figuring it out. There's a lot of fear and pain and shame there. So this book is about his choices. The cycles of poverty, abuse etc are powerful and Castle is in danger of repeating it BUT he is clearly aware that something in his life was abnormal and I believe if it wasn't track he would have sought out and found something else. Maybe theatre! That alternate fan fiction version will be called "Ghost Light"
Can you discuss the systematic efforts in place to prevent black people from unifying, or finding their “team”?
Okay, this question is enormous and so I'm instead going to just say a few things that one could Google to begin to answer that question.
Google post Civil War reconstruction era
Google prison industrial complex
Google civil rights act
Google a crack epidemic and war on drugs
Google public school system in urban areas
Google white flight
Google housing act
Google affirmative action
Google post industrialization
This country did a poor job of reconciling centuries of mental, physical, and economic terrorism inflicted writ large on African Americans specifically. The artists and activists and spiritual leaders and athletes, the men and women like Coach, reaching out to the next generation, going the extra mile (pun intended) to try and break those negative cycles.