Goodman Theatre Hosts College Night Program featuring “We’re Only Alive for a Short Time”

Courtesy of Liz LaurenGoodman’s college night offers affordable shows for students during the year and recently showed “We’re Only Alive For a Short Time.” Goodman’s student programs allow participants to engage with the world of theatre.

Goodman Theatre (170 N. Dearborn St.) hosted a College Night Sept. 27. Students had the opportunity to see director Robert Falls’ musical memoir, “We’re Only Alive For A Short Time” and participate in a Q&A with music director and composer Matthew Dean Marsh.

The Phoenix attended the event and spoke with Aaron Wegner, the marketing associate in charge of the program, about the purpose behind the program. Wegner said the theatre’s college night is meant to bridge the gap between its education programs targeted at high school age students and being full-time actors in the production and make theatre more accessible to college students.

According to Hannah Redmond, a box office worker at the theatre, Goodman will host two more college events. One will be Feb. 13 and will show “Twilight Bowl,” and the other will be March 13 and feature “Sweat.” Students can attend an interview with an artist in the productions and dinner is expected to be included. 

Students who want to be involved with Goodman’s college program can also volunteer as College Ambassadors. College Ambassadors promote College Night on their campus and can volunteer for events in exchange for two complimentary tickets to most of Goodman’s productions. They also gain experience in the theater business and have more opportunities for internships. 

Writer and performer Matthew Dean Marsh discussed his career with students. Marsh, a New York City-based composer, said his music career began through meeting people who opened doors to opportunities. One of his first jobs was playing piano professionally at the age of twelve. He said he continued in music from singing backup and scoring documentaries. 

One attendee asked Marsh about taking a leap of faith into the music industry and paying the bills as an artist.

“If I kept doing the day job … I realized I couldn’t find these opportunities,” Marsh said. 

Marsh said these opportunities to score documentaries and sing backup are what led him to work on Goodman’s production with David Cale. Marsh said he began working as the music director, but his close work with Cale changed his status to a co-arranger. 

Marsh said he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of working on “We’re Only Alive for a Short Time” as it was “a sensitive and challenging topic.”

“We’re Only Alive for a Short Time” is a memoir, written and performed by David Cale as he reflects on his childhood in Luton, England. 

When the lights fade for the show to begin, bird cages retreat to the ceiling as Cale dressed in an unremarkable plaid shirt walks in whistling. He sits on a bar stool and begins telling the story of his childhood.

He’s the only actor on stage, but he tells his story through the viewpoints of his father, mother and younger brother, Simon. Each character has a different perspective on life — gives perspectives respective to the people mentioned. Each perspective merges to tell one story.

“We’re Only Alive for a Short Time” is heavily symbolic and threads a metaphor with the birds which Cale began breeding in his “Bird and Animal Hospital” as a child. Luton’s misery keeps Cale “caged” in a family who doesn’t love one another. 

Although the play isn’t for all audiences, a mature, frequent visitor of the theatre can appreciate the metaphoric and artistic beauty of the play. The music is stunning, and the story telling is superb. Yet, it takes a cultivated palate to appreciate the art because, in its essence, it’s just a man standing on stage singing to himself.

It’s a story — his story. A story he places with such sincerity on the stage for audiences. 

Goodman Theatre prides itself on exploring a variety of stories, such as “We’re Only Alive for a Short Time,” on its stage. Through its college program, Goodman Theatre plans to expose new and upcoming artists to explore these pieces with them.

“We’re Only Alive for a Short Time” runs until Oct. 21 and tickets can be purchased through their website at

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