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Alumnus starring as Stanley in Gamm's
production of 'Streetcar' through Oct. 25
Sept. 21, 2015
This month, CCRI alumnus Anthony Goes ’02 will cross a big one role off his acting bucket list as he stars as Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at the Gamm Theatre. A major coup for any actor, the iconic role is only part of what makes this gig such a special one for Goes. As a Pawtucket native, it’s also one heck of a homecoming.
Goes graduated from Tolman High School in 1997 and took a few years off from the classroom. He was engaged to be married and wanted to focus on saving up for a future with his fiancée, who was away in the military. He worked warehouse jobs in Pawtucket and Providence, tagging and packing clothes, loading trucks. He filled in at parks and highway departments where he could.
As young love often does, that relationship foundered, and the time came for Goes to make a move. He admitted that he was mostly trying to appease his mother, in whose home he was living rent free, when he enrolled in classes at the Community College of Rhode Island. But once he got here, he found his passion.
He took courses at first without any particular goal in mind, a communications course here, a business course there. He needed an elective to fulfill his general education requirements and, without much forethought, landed in Bert Silverberg’s Acting I class.
“I was always sort of the class clown,” said Goes, who found the class to be a pleasant release, a chance to be funny. In an effort to tamp his energy, Goes’ mother had enrolled him in clowning classes with Gary the Silent Clown, a Ringling Brothers staple, and Gary took him under his wing – or his nose, as it were. When he was about 9 years old, he got his clown patch.
“I wasn’t thinking about craft. I just wanted to go out there and be a clown,” he said.
But fate had other plans. Silverberg cast him as understudy for Bassanio in “Overtime” by A.R. Guerney Jr., a modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” When the lead actor bailed, Goes was on the spot.
“It was terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying,” he remembered. “I was petrified to go out there onstage.”
Goes made it work, but he didn’t audition for any more shows that year, even though he became a major. Goes, an ex-athlete who cuts a solid, almost Wahlbergian figure, preferred helping on the technical side – that is, until he heard about the Irene Ryan Foundation, which offers scholarships regionally and nationally as well as a chance to accept the awards in Washington, D.C.
“I’m just a very competitive guy because of my sports nature,” said Goes. “I knew I was going to audition for the fall show.”
Still, it remained more about competition than about craft, he said. His love for craft grew after CCRI, when he majored in acting at Salem State University in nearby Massachusetts. He calls his undergraduate training a boot camp, praising the grit and tenacity of the students. But regardless of Goes’ rough edges, he started to find space for himself with the theater kids.
“I was really interested in it, starting to meet some nice people, seeing the dedication they had toward it, the way they talked about it,” he said of Salem State. “I was around theater all the time. I started to really bond with it, bond with them.”
He loved the “raw, naturalistic” roles that he played at Salem State. He had a certain edge that many of the musical theater types didn’t have, and he used that to his advantage, understanding where and how he fit. After he graduated, he landed a role with an educational touring company out of Waterbury, Connecticut, performing Shakespeare productions in schools. He then toured with a company that produced adaptations of 19th century literature – character-driven work, which he likened to clowning (“Fancy, crazy wigs, big mustaches,” he said). He booked equity work, bought his union card and felt that he was really starting to build something of a career.
In 2009, he had a yearlong hiatus. He worked outside the theater when he could, delivering hardwood flooring, odd jobs here and there. “I felt very jaded,” he said. “My love for it started to dwindle. I was getting lots of auditions, I just wasn’t booking the work. I wasn’t prepping right. I was very cocky in a bad way – I felt like I was good, and that I should be getting those roles.”
When he put on a two-man show with his college roommate at what was then Perishable Theatre, his friend called him out on a certain hollowness to his art. “He knew there was something going on, that I hadn’t been as invested as in the past,” he said. “I realized it was because I was doing it for selfish reasons.”
Goes took the time off to take stock in his motives, and in his craft. “I started to humble myself,” he said. “I took classes at the Gamm, and I started to find that love again. I started to audition for the Gamm, and I just let my guard down and just let it be what it was. It felt really good to give something so honest.”
Director Tony Estrella offered Goes his first local role as Barnabus in “Paul,” which Goes called “a great experience.” He went to graduate school at the University of Connecticut, which he likened to “Gepetto’s workshop,” having the honest, raw environs he liked to work in. Since he graduated in 2014, he’s been traveling, working in regional theater and television and auditioning.
He lives in Washington Heights now, trying to break into the New York (“New Yawk,” he drawls in the Boston/Providence style) theater scene. On a trip home last spring, he auditioned for Stanley in “Streetcar”without much forethought. When he got the call that he had scored the role, he said, it felt like he “won the lottery.
“I love the Gamm,” he said. “I loved that this space existed right in my hometown and I didn’t even know it growing up. There’s no ego; everyone is there to work. They are about the form, putting on a good show – it was a perfect fit.”
Goes knows he has big shoes to fill. Even sitting outside a café out of character, you can sense what the director saw in him when he auditioned: He’ll bring his own work to Stanley, of course, but he’s not so far-flung from the handsome, youthful Brando who so iconically chewed the scenery in the 1950s.
“There’s so much weight in these characters,” he said. “This is the type of show that’s going to push me to that next level. I gotta make this right. And it feels so good to be back. So good. I feel blessed. I love what I do.”
For more information or tickets to “Streetcar,” which runs through Oct. 25, visit the Gamm Theatre website.