by Tony Youngblood

Lindsay Goranson felt it was time to leave New York City. For ten years, she made her living as a theatre, film, and voice-over actor, but in 2014, everything became unbearable: the skyrocketing rent, the angry neighbor who yelled every time she played her ukulele, and the part time gig on the fifth floor of an illegal walk-up with no air conditioning and a heater that smelled like burnt hair. Neighborhood businesses shuttered left and right, and her favorite East Village dive bar got bulldozed for a swanky condo. The city was hollowing out.

Lindsay Goranson

Photo by Jason Böckli, Lindsay Goranson

“So many of the artists I respect and admire were picking up sticks and heading for somewhere, anywhere else they could find space to create and live and not have to work three jobs to do that,” Goranson says. “At some point I had the realization that none of it was worth it anymore for me.” But where to go?


She and her husband looked closely at Baltimore, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, but it was a $2 beer that decided their fate. “We were sitting at Robert’s Western World on a 36 hour blow through Nashville,” Goranson recalls. “I bought a $2 Miller High Life after a decade of $8 Bud Lite pints and thought, yeah, this is the place.”


Six months later, they packed their bags and moved to Nashville. As soon as she hit the tarmac, Goranson set out to find cross-discipline artist discussion groups similar to the New York Salon, the one she founded in NYC. But her search was unsuccessful. “I depression-baked pies for a couple of weeks and then arranged a MeetUp for people interested in developing new work. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.”

N&XT, which stands for New and Experimental Theatre, has evolved into an acting workshop, support network, and art incubator. The group hosts a monthly lab where works in progress are read aloud by professional actors. In a segment called Smorgasbord, six artists are given ten minutes each to perform in any medium.


N&XT will produce their first full scale production Manuscript at Gallery Luperca from November 5 through 14. The three act play by Paul Grellong will feature art inspired by the story and audience interactivity, creating an evolving installation that will remain on view at the gallery.


Goranson envisions N&XT evolving into a hub for visiting artists to connect and collaborate and an immersive theatre company along the lines of Punchdrunk (Sleep No More) and Third Rail Projects (Then She Fell).


The $2 beer brought her to Nashville. The community keeps her here. “Anything feels possible in this town,” she says. “If there’s a group you really admire, you can talk to someone who can get you involved. If you want to make performance art that consists of an actor having a conversation with a cello or dancing a painting (and I do), you can find the people who want to see that happen … and a brewery that will donate the beer to support it. That’s exceptional. That does not exist everywhere.”

Lindsay Goranson appears in the films Retina, The Theatre Bizarre, and Crooked & Narrow. For more information about N&XT and to purchase tickets for Manuscript, visit NandXT.com.

The above article was based on an interview Tony conducted with Lindsay Goranson. Here are additional excerpts from the interview:


T: When is the next meeting? Any upcoming events?


LG: N&XT Lab happens on the third Thursday of every month, the next one on October 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. We are always seeking writers, performers, artists, and audiences interested in seeing and being a part of new work.


I also co-host a seasonal event called 5xFream. Eight artists get five minutes to talk about their work or what inspires them. Our next event is mid-November.


T: What are your favorite things/places in Nashville?


LG: Fog. Central air. Greenways. Abandoned buildings. Whiskey. The Public Library Courtyard. Strawberries, tomatoes, and peaches. Tennessee State Museum. Old neon. Fried chicken. Skulls Rainbow Room, the Nashville Palace, and Turn One. The sound of a train in the distance. Fort Houston. Tennessee sunsets.

T: What advantages and disadvantages does it have to NYC?
(Author’s note: Lindsay listed the advantages in the last paragraph of the article.)


LG: Space is the shake-a-fist-at-the-sky issue both cities have in common. Developing new work does not come with resources and finding businesses that understand and believe in that kind of mission is difficult no matter where you are. N&XT is not a traditional performance group, we aren’t seeking a proscenium stage or cushy rehearsal space. We want to make extraordinary pop-up experiences that rely heavily on the donation of time in found spaces. When space is at at premium I wonder how new work suffers.


The true disadvantages? Although there are incredible resources and opportunities here, it is difficult to navigate them for new-comers. Everything feels very separate. It seems the music industry doesn’t speak to the fine arts, which doesn’t speak to the performing arts, which doesn’t speak to the maker community, etc. But the opportunity to be a part of how that infrastructure develops and evolves is one I’m thrilled to be a part of. There may be no delivery, or great Chinese food, or Coney Island, but the things I traded them for are far more valuable. Except Coney. There is no place like Coney. Should I click my heels when I say that? As long as you promise I can come back. There’s also no place like Nashville.

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