Welcome to Artist Features—an offering from Now & Then that provides depth and insight into the work of our artists. For show info and tickets, visit our box office.

Meet Director Cody Goulder

Cody is the director of The Mall, the next #newworkshop selection in Now & Then's 3rd season. Artistic Director John Perovich had a chance to speak with Cody about his process. The Mall by Jesse Saywell will be presented to audiences Friday, February 21 at 7:30PM and Saturday, February 22 at 11:00AM.

John Perovich (JP): Let's dive right in: What are you hoping to accomplish during the workshop week?

Cody Goulder (CG): This week has so little to do with me and everything to do with the play, which is almost like being in heaven. My hope and goal any time I go into a workshop—in whatever capacity I find myself—is determining how I can help the play become stronger.  How do we make the story more clear? How can I support the playwright in feeling confident about hearing what the play needs...what it already has that gives it a unique self?  Our team is ready to support Jesse in his process and craft the play to its fullest potential.

JP: Each play is different and each process is different, but—you're right—what remains the same is that we come together during the workshop week to support the play...to strengthen the play. Speaking about the play, what excites you about Jesse's play?

CG: Growing up in Arizona, my young life was completely shaped by mall culture. That was the place you hung out at or went to with friends after school. My middle school years were kind of like being in the movie Mallrats. I vividly remember going to Suncoast Video or KB Toys or Spencers or whatever clothing store was trending...and just hanging...not to forget the much-needed stop-ins at Wetzel’s Pretzels (did I totally just date myself?). I especially remember going to Paradise Valley Mall as a place to go and find people doing life things and crafting my experiences...passions. I went back there maybe two years ago and it was…so different. Everything seemed empty—it felt hollow. It’s biggest attraction was the collectibles museum nobody could go into—and the glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course. It was just such a culture shock and a shift from what I remember as such an important part in my life. I feel like that is something Jesse has tapped into extremely well...this pain and joy in nostalgia. How does something so essential to young life, a mall, become so permanent (in a building) and yet so temporary? Every character in this play has past memories and connections that they must come to grips with...they are tied to ideas and memories that remain permanent in their hearts, but no one else sees them...they don't exist to others. It’s that element that has drawn me to this play and something that is a lot of fun to play with—along with tapping into the hearts of this ensemble.

JP: Yes! We have a great team with us this week—The Mall features performances Emeka Ukaga, Matt Clarke, Cynnita Agent, David Magadan, and Jen Gantwerker. Final question: what do you enjoy about working on new plays?

CG: They’re new. They’re different. Even if they are built on the foundations of old story models and structures, they are still something we haven’t seen before. That’s exciting! That’s brilliant! More than anything, new plays offer just what they are—something to be born. What is the point in staying with tradition and the status quo?  How does one call themselves a unique voice if they keep trying to do the same thing as everyone else?

JP: It's been interesting with this play in particular. Whenever I share the play's premise with people that a group of high school friends are reunited through mysterious, anonymous letters to meet at their childhood mall 10 years after graduating, I'm immediately met with something like, "Is there a killer on the loose?" And I think that just tells me so much about old stories and audience expectations. And this play has surprises...that subvert expectations. Join us!

The Mall by Jesse Saywell will be presented to audiences this Friday, November 21 at 7:30PM and Saturday, February 22 at 11:00AM. For info and tickets, click here.