Cliff Goodwin, program director of New Dramatists into the 1970s, has passed away.
For the New Dramatists, Goodwin produced workshop stagings of over 150 new American plays, including works by Paddy Chayevsky, William Gibson, John Guare, Lanford Wilson, Joe Masteroff, June Havoc, Megan Terry, and Maria Irene Fornes. Titles during his tenure ranged from The Lion in Winter to Cabaret.
Goodwin tirelessly developed an informal pool of young, unknown New York actors who donated their talents to these productions; among them: Al Pacino, Gloria Foster, Christopher Walken, Clarence Williams III, Robert De Niro, James Earl Jones, Jill Clayburgh, John Travolta, Linda Lavin, and Bette Midler.
And it was Goodwin who located, secured, and oversaw the renovation of New Dramatists’ longtime home on West 44th Street—aided by ND member playwrights, “unknown” designers like Jules Fisher, and those ubiquitous actors.
Cliff Goodwin was born April 21, 1936, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nine years later the family (including his sister and 3 brothers) moved to Washington, DC, where, after graduating from St. Martin’s College in Washington State, he began his career in the film documentary unit of ABC-TV News. As a staff writer-producer, he received an Emmy nomination for programming in public affairs.
Moving to New York, he turned to acting, studying with Uta Hagen. For several years he played roles in GUIDING LIGHT, AS THE WORLD TURNS and THE EDGE OF NIGHT.
In the late sixties, Goodwin developed an interest in new American Playwrights (long before this was a popular movement) and became Program Director for the noted New Dramatists, Inc. There, over a six-year period, he produced workshop stagings of over 150 new American plays, including works by Paddy Chayevsky, William Gibson, John Guare, Lanford Wilson, Joe Masteroff, June Havoc, Megan Terry, and Maria Irene Fornes. (The Lion in Winter and Cabaret debuted at ND during his tenure.) Goodwin developed an informal pool of young, unknown New York actors who donated their talents to these productions. Among them were Al Pacino, Gloria Foster, Christopher Walken, Clarence Williams III, Robert De Niro, James Earl Jones, Jill Clayburgh, John Travolta, Linda Lavin, and Bette Midler.
Turning to directing, Goodwin staged the New York premieres of Carole Thompson’s Carrie, Clifford Mason’s Midnight Special, Aldo Giunta’s The Partnership; and the revivals of Stephen Tesich’s The Carpenters, Eric Bentley’s Brecht on Brecht, and Warren Kliewer’s The Berserkers. He was also active in regional theatre, directing Merchant of Venice in Pennsylvania, Jean Anouilh’s The Lark in Georgia, Sophocles’ Antigone in California, and others.
Subsequently, he toured small-town America for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ National Humanities Series. In four years he taught, lectured, and conducted workshops in over 200 towns in 44 states, attempting to encourage the development of new American plays.
Goodwin was an artist-in-residence at colleges and universities throughout the U.S., among them, Stanford University, American University, The University of Alabama, The University of West Florida, Gettysburg College, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In recent years Goodwin conducted private classes in Shakespearean acting and audition techniques while serving as a script consultant to New York City’s Circle Repertory Company, The Pilgrim Project, and Primary Stages; his New York directing assignments included Cynthia Cooper’s How She Played the Game for Primary Stages and Arthur Whitney’s Mademoiselle on Theatre Row. He also freelanced as a musical consultant; music from his collection has been heard in many New York theatres, most notably in the Broadway production of Lost in Yonkers.
He lived most of his adult life in his beloved Greenwich Village. For the last year he struggled with acute leukemia, finally succumbing to it on October 8. He is survived by his son, Michael; his sister, Pat Norry; his twin brother, Fred; and his younger brothers Bob and Jim.
In the late 1990s, Goodwin created and administered an unofficial fund for struggling actors; this fund is closed but donations in his name can be made to The Actors’ Fund.