By Donasia Sykes, Staff Writer, All About Solo
Mary Goggin comes straight from Theatre Row where she won the Best Storyteller Award for “Runaway Princess” at the United Solo Theatre Festival in November 2018. An actor on stage and in film for 20 years, her favorite roles include Ella O’Neill in Ann Hansen’s “Road of Babylon” at the Broadway Bound Festival. She was directed by Cyndy Marion in numerous Tennessee productions including “Cavalier for M’Lady,” “Clothes for A Summer Hotel” and “A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot.” She also performed in “PB & J” for the New York Fringe Festival and in “Born to be Blue,” winner of the Samuel French Festival. Favorite TV roles include “Broad City,” “Law and Order,” “Guiding Light,” “The Grind” (Amazon). Favorite film roles include “Little Children,” “MADD?,” “Reservations” (soon to be released), as well as “The Trouble with Bliss,” “Gasoline,” and “Bronx Paradise.” Her solo piece “Runaway Princess, a Hopeful Tale of Heroin, Hooking and Happiness” was originally written and workshopped at Matt Hoverman’s Go‑Solo Workshop in NYC. www.go-solo.org. We had the opportunity to talk with Goggin about her show and her professional career.
Donasia Sykes: How did you get into solo performance and what interests you about acting?
Mary Goggin: I am and have been a professional actor for 20 years. I’d been sober for a year and attended a retreat in Garrison, New ork for recovering alcoholic women. I sat down with a nun. She asked, “ you an actor?” I said, “Yeah, I wish.” That’s when I realized that is what I wish! When I started doing theater, I found out who I was. When I was a child, I wanted to be an archeologist. I now realize my need to dig for the truth is fulfilled through my work. I knew I had this show in me… now sober for 31 years. I knew that my comedic timing and self‑knowledge could heal myself and others. Which is what I was born to do. Why I am still here to tell this story. In 2005 I saw “Thom Pain” and was blown away. I did not in a million years think that I could do it… the truth apparently is bigger than me.
What was it like to be born to Irish parents in the United States?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. I was my family’s firstborn on American soil… both my parents were immigrants. The time‑warped culture shock. Ejection from the famine. Landing in the 60s on St Mark’s Place. Well… no spoiler alert necessary.
Why did you write and perform “Runaway Princess”?
Instinctually, I am a healer. I have always known I needed to write my story. To heal me and others. I did not want to be on my deathbed saying, “I wish I had…”
A lot of performers would not want to discuss their drug use, while you take the audience through several trips with you. Why did you frame your performance that way?
Great question. Simply put, if I bypassed talking about the things I did when I was drunk and high, I’d still be drunk and high. Self‑honesty is the key. I am only as sick as my secrets. Drug use is a symptom of a soul sickness – a sickness that is, in our culture, very often treated with other drugs, for example, methadone and Narcan. Don’t talk and don’t die. I say talk about it. “Runaway Princess,” I hope, is gracefully honest. We need to talk about everything. This is what I hope I achieved in the show: sharing what I did as opposed to preaching, walking the walk. Do what I do, not what I say. Oh, and when you see the show, it’s okay to laugh. Isolation and the inability to communicate are the hallmark traits of addiction. I can only speak for myself. When I first got sober, I was like an open wound and the only word I knew was “fuck”! Now, after a lot of work on myself, including 27 years of therapy, I have a feelings vocabulary and a voice, and I am funny as hell. And most of all gratitude. Boy, did I learn to communicate, and I am not alone.
Why did you frame your performance as a fairy tale?
Lots of reasons to use the device of a fairy tale. I first wrote the show as a fairy tale to look at my story objectively. The third person does that. In my process, the fairy tale premise serves many purposes. But it’s subjective, and I would love to hear my audience’s thoughts.
What do you hope the audience walks away with after seeing your show?
I hope that my sharing my truth gives others permission to share theirs. Not to judge someone’s insides based on their outsides. I hope that parents will seek help and learn how to listen to their kids, to try to understand their life, their anxiety. I hope they leave with, “Wow, that Mary Goggin is amazing.” Most of all, hope. Leave with hope, positivity and a strengthened belief in miracles.
“Runaway Princess, a Hopeful Tale of Heroin, Hooking and Happiness”
Written and Performed by Mary Goggin
Directed by Dan Ruth
February 24, and 28. March 4, 7, and 10, 2019
64 East 4th St.
New York City
DONASIA SYKES is a freelance writer currently based out of Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a BA in English and Textual Studies with a concentration in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she saw and performed in various small stage shows.