Emma Goidel on her buzzy new play ‘Local Girls’

Carrie Gorn​

With “Local Girls”, buzzy Philly playwright Emma Goidel moves up the local theater ladder with her second staged work this season (the first, the acclaimed “A Knee That Can Bend” premiered in December 2015).

Though a loud, raucous work of elegantly poetic and absurdist fiction, “Local Girls” — about the friendship between a high school metal rocker and a chemistry nerd — stems from Goidel’s own experience.

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“I did grow up amidst rock musicians at an arts school in Atlanta with parents who walked away from music careers,” says Goidel. “All of the people I made up to populate the world of “Local Girls” are inspired by my childhood.”

And now it’s “Local Girls” that’s inspiring the 26-year-old to get back to her childhood passion. Goidel recently picked up her guitar and joined Bandits, a feminist punk band, with “Local Girls’” co-star Mary Tuomanen.

How did you choose your soundtrack for “Local Girls”?
I grew up with friends who were super-into metal, and when I sat down to write a new play, that’s where I headed. I am interested in people who love metal, and I find imaging and writing about them satisfying.

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You recently joined a band with Mary Tuomanen.
Being in the “Local Girls” world brings up for me the massive love I had for making music and playing guitar in middle school and early high school. I stopped playing guitar in college, and being in rehearsal for “Local Girls,” combined with joining the Bandits for a gig at the end of January, definitely made me want to play again, which I did, and am doing now.

You’ve had two major works premiere this season. How important is that to a playwright?
It’s pretty freaking fantastic. My work as a playwright doesn’t stop when I write “end of play” on the third draft. Learning about and rewriting the play in the rehearsal room, and then, seeing what happens to my carefully laid plans when they go up for an audience is massively important for me as a growing writer, and for the play as a live text intended for production. Having two back-to-back opportunities to do that work has been inspiring, hugely informative, and so necessary. How else can you learn how to make theater that is meaningful for an audience? You have to put it up for an audience, and see what it does for them.

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