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'The silly and the serious': 'In The Beginning' uses humor to get to something deeper

Grackle Jack

In The Beginning is the latest show from Grackle Jack Productions. Created and performed by Grackle Jack artistic director CB Goodman, In The Beginning belongs to a genre that Goodman describes as a “wild woman dum dum show.”

“A wild woman dum dum show is sort of two main components,” Goodman explains. “You have, like, the wild woman part and then you have the dum dum show part. The wild woman part is a woman who’s living by her own rules and is very mischievous and sort of lives in the world of satire. And then the dum dum show part is ridiculous vulnerability and a lot of silliness and honesty. And so we smash those two things together to create a wild woman dum dum show.”

All of that is to say that In The Beginning is a show that uses comedy and a love of the absurd to tackle some real-world issues. “We are taking some really serious issues around shame and rejection and how people label other people,” Goodman says, “but we’re doing a really fun, lighthearted, playful, silly show. And by doing that, we can laugh at the things that scare us and take away their power.”

For Goodman, the show — which is premiering in Austin next month before moving on to The FRIGID New York Fringe Festival — is a creative (and hopefully therapeutic) way to deal with some uncomfortable feelings. “For me, in my experience, the level of intolerance that I’m witnessing and experiencing right now just reached a point where I just didn’t know what to do with my uncomfortable feelings,” she says. “I’ll just name it – I was mad! I was mad and I was full of rage so… I’m not supposed to say that I was full of rage, but I was full of rage. And so I decided to try to make a silly show about those feelings so that I could, for myself, process it. But also, hopefully, allow space for other people to process those feelings of not being accepted.”

In The Beginning is a one-woman show, but it’s definitely not a one-woman production. Among Goodman’s collaborators are co-director Sonnet Blanton and co-deviser Jess Workman. “I’m always on-board with what CB has to play and offer and produce,” Workman says. “And once I kind of got into the process, I’ve been able to kind of use what we’re doing in the rehearsal space, and use the concepts and ideas and battle things that I’m working on that are by-products of living in this world and kind of combat those in a different way. It’s been helpful.”

Blanton worked with Goodman years ago on The Philomel Project and says she’s enjoying this new collaboration. “She’s just brilliant, so I was very excited to get to be in the room and play with her,” Blanton says. “It’s been really, really, fun.”

That sense of fun and the joy of making your friends laugh has been a guiding light during the production. “We all just laughed a lot, and that’s when we knew, like, okay, now we’re on to something,” Goodman says. “If we were all laughing in the room, we had found the sweet spot of the silly and the serious. That’s the hope, anyway!”

“I think we did it,” Blanton says, adding that the show mimics the feeling of laughing with friends. “You give the audience several opportunities to come into that with you, to make things up during the play and to witness something happening and we're all there in the moment. And you’re trying to do something and we’re with you and it’s this incedible high when it works.”

“Yeah, it feels good to root for somebody,” Workman says. “And also to finally be able to laugh about something that maybe I’ve been crying about for a long time. So to release something in a different way in a place with people who are trying to do the same thing, it’s magical.”

“Yeah, I’ve laughed so hard in rehearsals that I’m crying or I have to stop what I’m doing,” Goodman says. “And that is magic. And I feel that the audience is going to be my friend, and that’s what I’m after. I’m after, like, can I welcome the audience and invite them to play with me around these very serious topics but in a very silly, young-hearted way? And if I can get people laughing… man, if I can get somebody to laugh-cry, I will feel so happy! That is the goal, for them to laugh-cry and then to think about the show afterward.”

'In The Beginning' runs February 2-11 at CRASHBOX, and is a 17+ show.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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