2000. The nicest you’ll get

A celebration of the 2000th story, in which Pravin Pilkington-Hooghiemster reposts his favorite interview. It is with the famous author, Bruce Goodman (aka Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûðmönd), with a reprint of the magazine cover in which the interview first appeared.

The Self-Effacing National Treasure

“If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna”

“The nicest you’ll get”

Monday, 16 November 2020

Seated at a wooden table on the veranda of a log cabin in the Appalachians somewhere, it’s hard to imagine that one is talking to New Zealand’s most performed playwright. And it’s most profound.

“Profound?” he smiles. “Who said that?”

“I read it somewhere,” I answer.

“Then you’re better read than I am,” he chuckles. It’s hard to believe. The walls of Bruce Goodman’s log cabin are lined with bookshelves of ancient Greek plays, the complete writings of Napoleon, the novels, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, philosophical treatises, and histories of old and modern North America, Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, Central and South America, Africa, and Oceania.

“It’s too far from here to the library”, he mutters. “Besides, they won’t give me a library card.”

I ask which of his prolific outpourings is his favorite play. “The latest one”, he says without hesitation, as if he has been asked a thousand times before. “It’s always the latest one. In this case it’s Café Play, yet to be performed. And Qatar. There’s one of them getting done in Qatar at present. They put it into Arabic.”

Goodman has an impressive list of works and awards to his name. “The first full-length play I wrote was Cloud Mother. The reviewers declared during its successful run that Goodman was an experienced playwright. I tried to announce that in fact it was my first, but no one seemed to want to listen. So they keep on getting written and performed. I’ve been experienced since the start”.

How then does it feel to be compared at various times and by various critics to Shakespeare, Goethe, Chekhov, Ibsen, Miller, Brenton? Beckett even. And Ionesco. Pinter. Ian Baird.

“It’s all in the head,” he says. “I write one scene with King Neptune’s wife wearing a rope chignon and they think it’s reminiscent of the second part of Goethe’s Faust. The truth is – I reckon – that they find it hard to categorize the plays. The best observation probably was from the person who said my scripts were all upside down and backwards. I don’t mean them to be. It’s just that I don’t know any better”.

And why no agent?

“I used an agent once. For a whole year not a single script got performed. So I took them back and pushed them myself. The following year there were over 1200 productions.”

And what’s the secret?

“Well, as Napoleon said, if you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.”

The interview has ended. I’m offered a cup of tea; a proper tea, not the apricot-scent-of-Alaska that can be gotten from specialty shops.

And may we take a photo for the magazine cover?

“I got one here you can use. It’s old, but it’s the nicest you’ll get”.

24 thoughts on “2000. The nicest you’ll get

      1. chrisnelson61

        Ha, ha…an epitaph written in the victims blood.
        Of course it will transpire that he is like so many famous ‘artists’ who have die and, after a short period, a raft of ‘previously unreleased’, ‘unfinished materpieces’ and ‘rough drafts’ will appear (to rave reviews), thus not only perpetuating the myth, but also adding to the coffers of those ‘connected’ folks left behind.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  1. Herb

    Congratulations on your anniversary. To be compared to Ian Baird? That’s quite the statement but if anyone can state it it must be a stateable statement. Er, never mind. Congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. disorderlyjottings

    A landmark in the history of literature alongside Chaucer getting a working map of Kent, Shakespeare finding a use for his second best bed, Milton’s third visit to the opticians and Virginia Woolf spotting that nice flat in Bloomsbury. Many congratulations my friend and here’s to the next 2000!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Let's brighten one another's lives with some original cliches.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s