The three-minute interview: Bill Goodman

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Goodman, of Chevy Chase, spent most of his adult life working for the Bureau of Labor Statistics before retiring six years ago and becoming a full-time playwright. His second play, "Atheist's Paradise," is being performed by the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company through Sunday.

How did you go from working with employment data to being a playwright?

I first got interested in playwriting around age 10. As a matter of fact, when I was in college it was my preferred career, but you cannot make a living as a playwright.

Tell me about "Atheist's Paradise."

It has to do with an aging college football coach that doubles as teacher of philosophy. A new college president comes. He's concerned with the college's difficult finances and insists that the coach, Doc, concentrate on winning football games and de-emphasize his teaching, and the coach resists.

Did your two areas of work complement each other?

The workplace gave me some inspirations. I met a great many people, both difficult and great, and they actually inspired some of my characters.

Did anyone specific inspire Doc?

Not from the Labor Department, but I did have an eccentric philosophy professor. He wasn't the coach, but he did have some of the traits of Doc, including claiming to have an invisible companion. The actual professor said it was a hippopotamus. Doc has a rhinoceros. They both say their invisible confidant is invisible, omniscient and created the world.

What's your next play going to be?

It's called "The Evolution of Speech." It's set in 1926, when the movies are about to convert to sound. It has to do with an Eastern playwright who takes himself extremely seriously and is sent by his financially struggling theater company to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter to raise some desperately needed money. What he doesn't know is that he's been assigned to write for three low comedians.

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner