Actor James Goode provides versatility for BTE

BLOOMSBURG — If James Goode had a middle name, it might very well be “versatile.”

Although born in Huntington, West Virginia, Goode is a longtime resident of Columbia County, and a very versatile member of the professional Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.

His first memory of “performing” was at age 9 or 10, when he was called upon to do a reading in church (“I guess I had the loudest voice”). But with only one bathroom for the six in the family, he was late, and the service went on without him.

“I was furious, and read the riot act to my family for making me late for my performance,” Goode says.

As Huntington High School had a small drama program, the 1971 high school graduate often acted and did backstage work at local community theaters.

His “breakout” role was the deranged Renfield in “Dracula.” Goode emphasizes that he also played Peter in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and 40 years later, it was very meaningful to return to the show at BTE, playing Otto Frank.

A 1976 graduate of Northwestern University, where the acting program was very literary-based, focusing upon the classics, Goode was involved in what today is called physical theatre, but back then was called mime. As an ensemble member, Goode created original pantomimic pieces.

“This must be when I developed my dual loves of language and physical storytelling,” he said.

After graduation, Goode and seven other grads came to Bloomsburg to take private master classes with Alvina Krause, who moved to the town after her retirement from the theatre faculty at Northwestern.

“We came for eight weeks, never intending to stay past the summer, but ‘fate kept on happening’ to quote Lorelei Lee. The classes led to our forming a professional theatre — The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, now in its 42nd season.”

He calls Krause “one of America’s great acting teachers in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s,” adding, “She instilled in us some of our founding principles: ensemble acting, artist empowerment, and the importance of theatre in the life of a community.”

In BTE’s first 20 years, Goode concentrated mostly on acting. Favorite roles and projects include “King Lear,” “Waiting for Godot,” “Letters to the Editor” (which toured nationally, was filmed by WVIA, and became a book) “The Mystery of Irma Vep” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Then Goode began directing shows, while also enjoying writing and adapting plays for BTE’s school tour and Main Stage productions,. He is co-writing the upcoming summer show “Something Grimm: Tales from the Brothers G.”

In recent seasons, his acting roles range from Vanya in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” to various parts in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time,” and my personal favorite, with Goode playing Joseph Priestly in the world premiere of “Gunpowder Joe.”

As for hobbies, Goode enjoys yard work and gardening (“I like getting my hands dirty”) and reading a lot, especially biographies.

A huge opera fan, Goode gives a pre-opera talk at the Bloomsburg Cinema Center before the showings of the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts.

James Goode is tremendously thankful for the support that he and BTE has been granted over the years, making it possible to have “a long meaningful career in a lovely livable area of the United States.”

However, Goode also cautions that, “We always must be artistic entrepreneurs, re-inventing our identity and successes; once we settle into repeating past successes, we’re dead in the water.”

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