Play deals with impact of economic downturn

goatsong4th-4-4-16 (1) copyIn keeping with a growing trend in Hollywood and national publishing, a new local original play deals with the 2008 economic crash and the struggles it has created for people in Kansas City and across the country.

Goat Song, the most recent work by Kansas City playwright Scott Myers, takes place during the Lehman Brothers’ collapse. It examines the impact of the Great Recession on an urban music business.

Entertainment industry executives and publishers say there is a growing audience for movies, plays, television shows and novels that address the failures that brought the economy to the edge of collapse eight years ago, the New York Times reported in February. Industry analysts say movies like “The Big Short” appeal to audiences trying to deal with a shrinking middle class and increased income inequality. Other cultural critics have noted that the Great Depression of the 1930s led to a similar trend in cultural offerings.

“Although I started writing the play several years ago, the issues it explores are at the forefront of the presidential election campaign that is unfolding right now,” Myers says. “As we’ve seen in movies, books and the theater, audiences seem to have a hunger for art that focuses on the real economic issues they are facing today.”

The Westport Center for the Arts presented a staged reading of Goat Song a year and a half ago. In keeping with its new focus on offering more full-stage productions, the group is taking the play to the Off-Broadway Theater in a series of performances June 2-12.

The cast includes: Jerron O’Neal, Granvile O’Neal, Devon Barnes, Coleman Crenshaw, Dianne Yvette, Tim Burks, Kenneth Wigley and Andy Penn. Goat Song will be directed by Jordan Fox.

The title Goat Song or “goat story” comes from an ancient Greek phrase meaning tragedy. Myers’ play begins with a robbery in a gas station. He says the interracial cast of characters could be living in Kansas City, Memphis or Nashville.

The play deals with how its characters are able to survive and transcend calamity with art and love. The characters—including Zenobia, Sloop, Blade, Mo Motley, Sr., Miriam Motley— struggle to cope with economic catastrophe and their intersecting personal fates. Their art (music) and their intertwining love interests help them cope and hopefully survive. While the main character, Mo Motley, Jr. wrestles with “Money gods!”, he and his companions also wrestle with their personal histories and bad decisions they have made.

Since the play is about a music business, there is music in the play, including a live performance of an original song, “Can I Start Chasin’ You?”

Goat Song resonates about how resilient we are, how caring we are, and how unselfish we can be in times of woeful situations. The play also shows how an individual’s life can be rebooted by a simple act of kindness. Malfeasance, intrigue, and the ability to rebound in life are all elements in this original play by Scott Myers,” Granville O’Neal says.

Myers is also the author of JFK: A Ghostly Evening, Stealing Kandinsky, and Star Over Our Treehouse.

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