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Playwright Jessica Goldberg on Babe


Jessica Goldberg’s world premiere play Babe opens September 17 at Echo Theater in Atwater Village. It’s a dark comedy about the music business and who gets to influence what gets heard. We talked to the playwright about the process of bringing her vision to the stage.


Jessica Goldberg. Photo courtesy of Echo Theatre Company.

Babe is about the clash between generations to control culture. Do you think that creative executives have a sell-by date, that in general they lose the pulse, become complacent or otherwise misjudge the ever-changing zeitgeist?

What’s popular in music changes radically. For me, who’s now middle-aged, I feel those things so intensely, having grown up in Woodstock with a dad who owned a record store. There was always a lot of music around, and it was wild to see the changes through him. When Radiohead first started, kids would line up to get the new album. Then at some point they had it before he did. Music is such a changing world and it’s hard to keep up.


Historically, the music business is known as a boy’s club. But in Babe, women have power. How did you research the music business, and how do you think it’s changed since the ‘90s?

This play is about a new generation of women who are re-framing what used to be accepted social constructs. I’m from the generation that was complicit, who went along and laughed at the joke. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life being called “Babe.” The play takes place in the world of the music business, but it could just as well be Hollywood or Big Tech. With the overturning of Roe, we need to remain vigilant.

The play also addresses the clash between the time where you’d go and look for bands, and now, when it’s done mostly on the computer. Maybe that fantasy that the A&R rep comes to the club still happens in Nashville but that rock and roll dream seems to have changed.

The themes in the play can definitely extend to other workplaces and environments. I watched a lot of people around me have their behavior pointed out and asked myself why I didn’t say anything. Now, when you’re on a TV staff, they come in right in the beginning and show a video, talk about what you can say and post, what kind of behavior is appropriate.


How did you originally affiliate with Echo, and what has the relationship been like through the course of putting on five plays there?

Echo is such a unique LA and even American theater. It has a very loyal support system while also finding and developing new writers and voices. In 1999, when I was at Julliard, Chris Durang sent Chris [Fields, Echo Artistic Director] a play of mine and we started working together. It’s difficult to navigate writing in other forms, like TV, and staying with the theater, but whenever I write something, he’s the first person I send it to. I feel safe doing a reading at Echo, seeing if something is worth investigating and working on.

They do such great work and have such dedication from actors and designers. Their embrace of all the aspects of theater and their artists makes it a very nurturing place.



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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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