Above: Kristin Goodman is author of #UnderTheInfluence and director of the film The Maid. Photograph by Bahareh Ritter.
KRISTIN GOODMAN WAS BRUSHING HER TEETH one night when an idea popped into her head. The screenwriter, director, and playwright imagined a story about sisters Brooke and Chelsea—one a mommy blogger, the other an unemployed waitress with an alcohol problem—who develop a reality TV show based on their lives.
“These characters and this title dropped into my consciousness,” she says. “I put my toothbrush down and started writing.” The sudden inspiration became #UnderTheInfluence, a three-act play that follows the sisters as they develop, film, and then deal with the aftermath of a successful show. Directed by Jessica Hanna, the dark comedy premieres at Santa Fe Playhouse December 2–19, 2021.
Born in Albuquerque’s South Valley, Goodman received her BFA in theater from the University of New Mexico in 1995 and her master’s in acting from DePaul University in 1999. She started her theatrical career teaching at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and later moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a screenwriter and horse trainer on a little ranch beneath the Hollywood sign.
“I call my time in L.A. my building-block time,” says Goodman, who spent two years working on a Televisa project that ended up not getting produced. “While I had a somewhat successful time there, it doesn’t show up in the way people think.”
Eventually she and her husband missed the outdoors and were exhausted by the pace of Los Angeles. “I had this realization that time is a-tickin’,” says Goodman. Since moving to Santa Fe in 2012, she has worked in both theater and film, including as director of Adobe Rose Theatre’s performance of Robert Schenkkan’s Building the Wall. In September, her short The Maid won best film at the 2021 LA Women’s Independent Film Awards.
For #UnderTheInfluence, Goodman borrowed from interactions with her own two sisters. “We have always had that sister dynamic, which is both really rocky and solid at the same time,” she says. The play’s action takes place in Chelsea’s living room, where the sisters reminisce about their childhoods—often remembering things quite differently.
But #UnderTheInfluence is about more than sister dynamics. It also expresses big ideas about the world in 2021, the effects of social media, and how it changes the way we experience life.
“How is the influence of social media similar to other influences like drugs and alcohol?” Goodman asks. “With drug addiction, people habitually go to this one thing to make them feel good, and they will continue to reach for it even when it’s no longer making them feel good. Social media is like that.”
After a year of pandemic delays, rewrites, and table reads, Goodman looks forward to sharing #UnderTheInfluence with an audience. “We are being given a gift that encourages us to be more present and more aware that gathering with others to tell stories is precious.”