Thirty years following his Goodman Theatre debut, David Cale—“a spellbinding storyteller and veteran solo artist who’s made his name performing his own character studies” (The Los Angeles Times) reveals the latest in his long line of theatrical triumphs. We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time marks the seventh Cale show the Goodman has produced, three of which were Goodman-commissioned works.

David Cale and Faryl Millet in 2005's "Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky." Photo: Liz Lauren.
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1988 David Cale made his Goodman debut with The Redthroats, a solo performance piece that introduced audiences to an isolated English adolescent, Steven Weird, and his dysfunctional family. Though the piece was not autobiographical, Steven’s story featured many parallels to Cale’s own life, including parents who work as hat-makers in the London suburb of Luton and the character’s affinity for Judy Garland.

1989 In Smooch Music, Cale presented 23 portraitures of love, relationships and sex through poetry, rap and song. A live jazz quartet accompanied Cale, led by composer/saxophonist Roy Nathanson of the now-defunct New York jazz band, The Lounge Lizards.

1991 A world premiere directed by former Goodman Resident Director David Petrarca, Deep in a Dream of You found Cale again collaborating with Nathanson, who created the piece’s original score. The show featured Cale embodying a complex cast of characters who deliver confessionals—including a woman detailing her affair with a sea creature, which prompted the Chicago Reader to hail that “even his most outrageous tales seem autobiographical!”

1993 For Somebody Else’s House, Cale and Petrarca again joined forces—“a collaboration now at its finest hour,” raved the Chicago Tribune. The monologist portrayed men and women in search of identity, representing the lonely and overlooked, and introduced the character Lillian.

1997 The eponymous Lillian, a London bookstore clerk (portrayed by Cale), shared the intricacies of her romance with a younger man named Jimmy. Cale’s performance was recorded live at the Goodman Studio Theatre for National Public Radio’s This American Life, and later earned an Obie Award for its New York production at Playwrights Horizons.

2005 A departure from Cale’s character-focused monologues, his country western musical Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky introduced Floyd Duffner, a former singer/songwriter and alcoholic seeking refuge in the badlands of Montana. There, he meets aspiring country singer Clea Johnson (Faryl Millet), who inspires him to begin life anew. In addition to starring in this Goodman commissioned work, Cale wrote the book and lyrics and, in collaboration with jazz guitarist and composer Jonathan Kreisberg, its musical score. Floyd and Clea was first presented at the Goodman’s New Stages Festival and received its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons, where it earned an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical.

2018 Artistic Director Robert Falls directs We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time, Cale’s incredible musical memoir, opening Goodman Theatre’s 2018/2019 Season.


Joy R. Lee is the 2018 Communications Apprentice for Goodman Theatre.

Buy tickets and learn more about We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time here.