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Poona the Fuckdog

Poona the Fuckdog

Author Interview

Poona the Fuckdog was written by Jeff Goode, a director, actor, and author of over 50 plays, musicals and children's shows. You can find out more about Jeff on his web site.

Q: What are the origins of Poona The Fuckdog? I understand the title existed long before the play's concept.

Goode: I was working on the world premiere of LARRY AND THE WEREWOLF in Chicago and the director asked me to turn in a bio for the show's program. Now, I hate writing bios more than just about anything and after doing 30 or 40 versions of that little blurb, I finally just gave up and wrote "Jeff Goode is the author of..." and started making up interesting titles of plays to pretend I'd written. And the first one that popped into my head was POONA THE FUCKDOG AND OTHER PLAYS FOR CHILDREN. It seemed like something that if you saw the name in a showbill, you might want to know more about it. But I hadn't actually written it. Yet...

Q: What spurred you to write the show?

Goode: About a year later I was asked to write a new play for a group in New York and I was having a case of writer's block. In the past I've found that the more difficult an assignment is, the better my writing becomes, so I decided that what I really needed to get past this block was a huge challenge. It occurred to me that it would probably be impossible to come up with a show that really lived up to the title POONA THE FUCKDOG AND OTHER PLAYS FOR CHILDREN. So that's what I tried to do. When I presented the finished script to the company, they were horrified and cancelled the production.

Q: Poona has great potential to transcend the small stage and reach a more mainstream audience, despite its poignant and sometimes acidic social commentaries. In this respect it reminds me of Mad Magazine and Saturday Night Live. Am I alone in thinking this?

Goode: I don't think I follow the question.

Q: Let's put it this way: The average citizen of this nation thinks FOX is the bastion of journalistic integrity. He probably thinks his hometown paper is locally owned. He has no idea that the airwaves, jammed with the same pay-for-play songs, are public property, "a scarce commodity" to be used in the public's best interest. He probably thinks the President is a great communicator, incapable of insincerity. Despite this mentality, this person, I believe, would find Poona downright hilarious, because the show is funny on different levels, like Mad Magazine or Saturday Night Live. Because of this, Poona, perhaps more than other theater shows (which Mr. average person might find too slow, too intellectual or too melodramatic) has the potential to reach a more mainstream audience.

Goode: In that respect, certainly POONA was never intended for the exclusive bemusement of the theatre-going pseudo-intelligentsia. I always try to appeal to the broadest audience possible.

There's really not much point in gettin' all political with people who probably agreed with you in the first place. The challenge is to shove your worldview down the throat of people who wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. And that means you better give 'em a good fucking show, because they're sure as hell not paying 15 bucks to be subjected to stimulating ethical discourse.

The trick is to pull off both things at the same time. That's why shows like THE PRODUCERS or THE LION KING are so great. It's absolutely possible to be avant garde and popular at the same time. But very few people even bother to make the attempt.

Q: It appears all the characters get a fair shake. I wound up sympathizing with The Man Who Can Sell Anything and even The Handsome Prince. Were any of the characters meant to be despised?

Goode: I don't think anything is accomplished by demonizing characters. (Unless you want to bomb their country, of course.) In reality, even the Hitler's of the world are motivated by what they think is "good." Teaching people that evil is done by stereotypical shifty-eyed "evil doers" only serves to make them vulnerable to the real criminals: serial killers who look like ordinary guys, rapists who look like someone you know, master-thieves who look like bankers or CEOs or community leaders. The ultimate source of all the world's problems are good intentions that have gone horribly awry. That's why I always try to have villains with genuine motivations. I'm not trying to help the audience recognize bad people when they meet them; I want them to recognize misguided behavior when they start to do it themselves.

Q: Is there a method to your writing?

Goode: Like madness, there is no method.

Q: How would you feel about Poona The Fuckdog pet bowls, Poona T-shirts (packaged in reusable pink boxes) and Mr. Beer bottle openers (for those oh-so-rare non twist-off caps)?

Goode: I think it's a wonderful idea. As a playwright, it's always exciting when something you've written inspires others to new heights of creativity, whether that's a beautiful set, or a really cool poster, or an awesome series of T-shirts. And obviously Poona is an image that a lot of folks respond to. She's also popped up in an online poetry journal, and I was even approached by a punk band that was considering using the name. I suppose for some of my plays I might be bothered if they became too commercialized, but I think once you've seen POONA you'll agree that it's somehow oddly appropriate. The more exploitive the better, really.

Q: Have you considered that someone might buy the video thinking it's porn?

Goode: I didn't originally envision this as a video per se, but I have been asked (many times) whether POONA THE FUCKDOG AND OTHER PLAYS FOR CHILDREN is really a play for children. To which, I always respond, "Yes, of course!" (Because, honestly if someone is that dense, maybe it's just better to let the gene pool weed them out quickly and get it over with.)

Q: Of your other shows, which do you think are well suited for future StageDirect videos?

Goode: That sounds like a trick question. I think the adventures of Dick Piston, Hotel Detective (such as LARRY AND THE WEREWOLF and the new COSMETIC PERJURY) would make an excellent series. Also the UBU PLAYS (which really are for children) are lots of fun for all ages.

Windows Media
(100 seconds, 3.2MB)

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