A Jenkintown Student Is Serious About His Plays Adam Goldberg's Dramas Win Awards And Are Being Performed Around The Country. He Can Act, Too.

Posted: June 05, 1994

JENKINTOWN — Though he was the son of a physician and the sibling of two brothers with medical ambitions, when young Adam Goldberg pondered his destiny, he didn't see a stethoscope.

With some trepidation, Goldberg, now 18, announced to his parents some years ago that he would rather take filmmaking courses than pulses; that he preferred to write plays than prescriptions. "I'm horrible at math and science," he said. But he is good at writing plays.

The senior at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia has been named one of 10 finalists in Young Playwrights, a fiercely competitive New York City-based national festival. Goldberg and the nine other winners saw their plays read by professional actors at the Joseph Papp Public Theater.

Another Goldberg play was recently chosen by the National Compact Comedy Contest and is in production at the Players Guild of the Festival Playhouse in Arvada, Colo.

The Thacher One Act Play Contest in Ojai, Calif., awarded first prize to a Goldberg play last year as well, and a Nantucket, Mass., summer theater is considering a production of yet another Goldberg one-act play.

Moreover, Goldberg won the 1993 Philadelphia Young Playwright's Festival award for two different one-act plays. Last week, said Goldberg, television actor Fred Savage left a message on his answering machine that a Brentwood, Calif., performance of Goldberg's play Crushes was well-received. Savage and actor Austin Garrett of the film GhostDad played two brothers discussing their parents' divorce.

"What stands out about him," said Penn Charter English teacher Joe Perrott, "is that he is remarkably receptive to critical commentary. He is willing to do revisions and rewrites. He listens to his audience and can rewrite accordingly. That's what makes him so good."

Goldberg said he had to learn "not to get frustrated, not to fall in love with your work. The world of entertainment likes to put everything down. Everyone is critic. It's always, 'Your play is great, but . . .' "

As a youngster, Goldberg said, "I stunk at sports." He picked up a family video camera when he was 5 and seldom put it down. The determined preteen invited Stephen Spielberg to his Bar Mitzvah, and the family was astonished when Spielberg's secretary called to decline.

"She said they loved the letter Adam wrote, but that Spielberg would be away making the film Always," said his mother, Beverly Goldberg. Spielberg

sent along information about film schools with personal notes scribbled in the

margins.

Goldberg used his Bar Mitzvah gift money to buy a film editing machine and enrolled the next year in Cinekyd, a film and video program in Lower Moreland.

Two years ago, he starred in a production of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs staged by the Old Academy Players in Philadelphia's East Falls section. He dropped sports, shunned television and began writing plays with a vengeance.

"My first play was absolutely horrible," said Goldberg. "I had no idea they'd ever be put on. It was self-therapy for me."

Goldberg, who said he is still learning how to write a play, began by turning conversations into dialogue. "I basically write a character sketch, I talk out loud, and write a monologue to learn who the character is," he said. ''Then I get in a mental zone and crank out 10 pages in an hour."

From listening to friends talk about how they pick up girls, he wrote Dr. Pick-up, performed in December at Temple University's Tomlinson Theater through the Philadelphia Young Playwright's Festival.

The Purple Heart, a dialogue between a boy and his grandfather in a senior citizen's residence, was based on Goldberg's grandfather's move to a Philadelphia senior center.

For his Penn Charter senior project, he starred in a one-man show Friday at Penn Charter, playing eight characters, including a Jewish mother, in monologues he wrote.

Goldberg will spend the summer at the Northwestern University's Theater Arts Division National High School Institute in Evanston, Ill., then attend New York University.

His school director, speech and drama instructor, Colleen Durkin Lapowsky, said it is refreshing to see a love of theater in someone his age.

"The world is so video-prone these days," she said. "It's important to delve into human characters. Theater is something that can't be rewound or fast forwarded, and that's something today."

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