Working with Castellanos led Goblen to Octavio Campos, another influential Miami teacher and creator of performance art and dance theater, and months of experimental dance and acting workshops.
“He’s a very open soul, very giving and vulnerable,” says Campos, whom Goblen calls his gay father. “He’s like a broken hero who wants to save the world. I think he really feels the sword of his words can stop these personal wars we live with every day.”
The internal battles Goblen expressed in whirlwind spins and confrontational jabs as a B-boy took darker forms in this new arena — a torturously erotic wrestling match with Liony Garcia in Rosie Herrera’s Various Stages of Drowning, an agonized hallucination in Castellanos’ Fat Boy. In Campos’ 2007 Kitchen Monkey, Goblen so convincingly played the abusive partner of co-star Teresa Barcelo (his girlfriend at the time) that the director had to pull him back. “He was pouring out heavy [stuff], heavy emotions,” Campos says. “He was amazingly scary.”
Another complication for Goblen was that he became a father at 14. Along with his mother, the boy’s mother and her family, he raised his now-17-year-old son. And while he would never recommend parenthood to the high schoolers he sometimes teaches, he says he has no regrets.
“He is amazing,” Goblen says of his son, who enjoys painting and playing football. “I got to spend every day with my son when I wasn’t out of town, wake up with him, feed him breakfast, walk him to school. I was there for a lot of that because of the choices I made. Which I don’t regret at all.”
Goblen’s emotional life is rich fodder for his work. In his first solo piece, 2006’s Insanity Isn’t, he was an office worker emotionally and physically twisted by the stress of modern life. In 2010’s Fair Welling, he was suspended between life and death, musing on love’s meaning, and whether to keep living. His writing combines a sharp awareness of pop and hip-hop culture with a blunt, even startling emotional honesty that’s sometimes humorous, sometimes devastating.
Miami Light Project executive director Beth Boone, an avid supporter who has commissioned all three of Goblen’s solo pieces, took a chance on him after Scratch & Burn.
“I was impressed with how dedicated he was to learning, and I could tell he could tell good stories,” she says. “He’s been so successful in crafting pieces that live on outside Miami that we’ve been able to tour because they are universal enough to go outside here.”
Goblen now juggles hip-hop work (mostly teaching and judging competitions), commercial gigs on music videos and ads (Gloria Estefan, Puma, AT&T), performing and touring with Castellanos or Herrera and his own pieces, which have taken him to Europe and around the United States.
In PET, he explores the search for love as leader of a support group for serial monogamists, which is what he calls himself.
“People are constantly looking for the one, and when they find the one, they go, ‘This is it, this is amazing,’ and two years later they go, ‘Oh no, he or she broke my heart,’ ” he says. “And then they go on to the next one. It’s like you’re doing it to yourself, you keep breaking your own heart as you’re looking for this perfect thing.”
He set out to explore sex addiction, but as he interviewed people for material, they kept revealing a more profound motivation. “All the stories and lust just kept coming back to love and the lack of love,” he says. “Everybody needs to be loved, expects to be loved. It’s the almighty, the all-powerful.”
The audience will be part of the piece, sitting in a circle and invited to be part of the support group — a familiar set-up to Goblen from years of break-dancing at the center of a crowd.
“I like performing in the round,” he says. “It’s the same as a B-boy in a circle. I feel comfortable close to people. It’s more like ‘We’re all here together. You came to see me and we’re going to share.’ ”