Idris Goodwin

Idris Goodwin is an award winning playwright, director, orator and essayist. His play How We Got On developed at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, premiered in Actors Theater’s 2012 Humana Festival, and is being produced at theatres across the country. It is the first in his “break beat play” series which includes The REALNESS and Hype Man, winner of the 2017 Blue Ink Playwriting Award. His play And In This Corner Cassius Clay received the 2017 Distinguished Play Award from The American Association of Theater and Education. Other widely produced plays include Blackademics, This Is Modern Art co-written with Kevin Coval, and Bars and Measures. Goodwin is one of seven playwrights featured in the widely presented HANDS UP!, an anthology commissioned by The New Black Fest and published by Samuel French. His one act Black Flag was produced Off Broadway. The Way The Mountain Moved, commissioned as part of Oregon Shakespeare’s groundbreaking American Revolutions Series, will world premiere in 2018. He has work commissioned by or in development with The Public Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater, The Kennedy Center, Seattle Children’s Theater, Stage One Family Theater, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor Program, La Jolla Playhouse, The Lark Playwriting Center, The Playwrights’s Center and New Harmony Project. He’s received support from the NEA and Ford Foundation, and is the recipient of InterAct Theater’s 20/20 Prize. These Are The Breaks (Write Bloody, 2011), his debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Inauguration an chapbook co-written with Nico Wilkinson (Haymarket Books) won the 2017 Literary Arts Award from The Pikes Peak Arts Council. Goodwin’s poetry has featured on HBO, The Discovery Channel, Sesame Street and National Public Radio. Find him at

Plays written by Idris Goodwin



And In This Corner…Cassius Clay-  (2F 7M)  There have been African American sports heroes whose celebrity helped shine light on the struggles of the communities from which they emerged, but there was no one more colorful, dynamic and larger than life than the one and only, the true greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. Before he shook up the world he was just Cassius Clay, Jr. from Louisville, Kentucky; and the Louisville where he grew up in the 1950s was not like Louisville today…

Bars and Measures –  (1F 3M)  The fascinating tale of two brothers. One a classical pianist. The other a jazz bass player. One a Christian. The other a Muslim. One living in freedom. The other in jail. Separated by bars, the brothers try to reconcile their differences through the language they know best. Music. A beautiful journey through faith, family, melody and time.

Blackademics –  (3F 0M)  Two ravenous African-American scholars arrive for their coveted dinner reservation at a select café. But what starts as a celebration quickly takes a raucous turn. Banter turns to debate, and debate into battle as the women figuratively and literally vie for a seat at the table. In this West Coast premiere, playwright Idris Goodwin serves up a meal of searing wit, pop-culture humor, and psychological menace in an absurdist take on “post-racial America.”

How We Got On –  (2F 2M)  It’s 1988 in an upper-class Midwest suburb. Teens Hank and Julian live and breathe hip-hop while their peers would rather rock. Determined to create the ultimate suburban rap song, the duo forges ahead through unconvinced parents and the highs and lows of friendship. With a ‘theatre DJ’ looping, spinning and remixing the action on stage, How We Got On takes us on an uplifting lyrical journey of dreaming big and discovering your voice.

The Realness –  (1F 1M)   Thomas has escaped the ‘burbs and come to the city to savor authentic hip hop culture. He falls madly in love with Prima, a super-dope MC, and he is willing to lie, cheat, and scheme to win her well-guarded heart. But is he after real love or fulfilling a middle class rap fantasy? A meditation on authenticity and class collision, The REALNESS follows a young man’s journey for his heart and true identity.

This Is Modern Art  - (2F 4M) Graffiti crews are willing to risk anything for their art. Called vandals, criminals, even creative terrorists, Chicago graffiti artists set out night after night to make their voices heard and alter the way people view the world. But when one crew finishes the biggest graffiti bomb of their careers, the consequences get serious and spark a public debate asking, where does art belong?

The Way The Mountain Moved – (7M 6F) In the haunting and haunted wilderness setting of the play, African-American Mormons, Department of War surveyors, pioneer women and a Mexican-American war veteran lose their way and find each other in the starkly beautiful, pre-railroad American West. They are unknowingly watched by Native Americans who argue whether to befriend, fight, or flee the newcomers. In a nation still taking shape, built mostly of dreams and ideas, which version of America will prevail? Commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festivals’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle.

Hypeman – (2M 1F) After a decade in the rap game, frontman Pinnacle and his crew finally have the world’s attention. But on the eve of their globetrotting tour, the shooting of an unarmed black teenager shakes the dynamic of the hip-hop trio and unearths years of suppressed resentment — lines are crossed as the group navigates issues of identity and friendship.

The Blueprint – (2M 4F) THE BLUEPRINT follows two successful and competitive African American writers as they navigate personal and professional crisis. Framed by the tracks of a contemporary playlist, this rhythmic ensemble piece, examines the heartaches, sacrifices, successes, and the sheer will it takes to pursue the dream.


Idris Goodwin is an award winning playwright, essayist, and spoken word artist. His play HOW WE GOT ON, developed at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 2012 Humana Festival. Nominated for an ATCA Steinberg New Play Award. Critically acclaimed and published by Playscripts, HOW WE GOT ON is being widely remounted across the country. Goodwin was back at Humana Festival this year as co-writer of Remix 38. Upcoming productions include: THIS IS MODERN ART at Steppenwolf Theater and AND IN THIS CORNER: CASSIUS CLAY at StageOne. He holds writing commissions from B Street Theater and InterAct (as recipient of their annual 20/20 Award). Goodwin has been a writer in residence at Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor Program, The Kennedy Center and New Harmony Project. Goodwin is a Core Writer with The Playwrights’ Center and a proud member of the Dramatist Guild. An accomplished poet and essayist, his book These Are The Breaks was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He’s performed on HBO, Discovery Channel, and Sesame Street. Goodwin teaches performance writing and hip hop aesthetics at Colorado College.