Most 8-year-olds don't see many theater productions, let alone more-than-G-rated ones like Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire, but it was this experience that solidified Dylan Godwin's desire to become a performer. He remembers sitting in the front row, being absolutely absorbed into the world created by actors on the stage of his community theater in Athens, Texas.
"It was this hot, humid New Orleans world, and I was completely sucked into it. I mean, you see people acting and going up on stage to do a show all the time, but it was the first time I'd ever seen someone onstage just living a life," says Godwin. "It was so interesting to watch them because it was like they weren't aware that we were watching them. It was just absolutely captivating to me."
Godwin's big, excited personality was pretty conducive to the culture of storytelling in the small town where he grew up. Every day after school, he and his friends would stay at the community theater until 10 p.m. and spend their weekends there. Athens, he says, "has a real sort of oral tradition. I always grew up with stories. And that's how my brain works."
For him, it's the universality of storytelling--the getting lost in a world that comes with reading a really great book or watching a poignant movie--that draws him to performance as an art. "Something about using your body, your voice, through dance and through singing and through whatever else feels like a real culmination of everything that storytelling is about. It just feels like a very natural thing."
And he's definitely a natural at it: he won our award for Best Breakthrough performance for his role in Good People at the Alley Theatre.