When Matt Met Cat

The following podcast is the latest of how playwright, Cat Rhoden Goguen met the subject of her latest play, Unstoppable By Design. Hear from Matt Rifenburg and Cat as they speak candidly about the process of writing the play and what they have gained from each other.    You can also catch a glimpse of their first meeting after the play was complete.  Watch first meeting by clicking HERE

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An Evening of Plays is a Huge Success

Playwright, Catherine Rhoden – Goguen
An Evening of One Acts, designed by Charles Myrick
Playwright Cat Rhoden Goguen and Matt Rifenburg, the subject of her latest play, Unstoppable By Design
Lynn Camp High School combined cast of students and teachers with Cat Rhoden Goguen and Matt Rifenburg for the premiere of, Unstoppable By Design
Matt Rifenburg with a student actor from Clay County HS who was inspired by Matt’s life in the play, Unstoppable By Design #Theatre4Change
Clay Co High School cast with playwright Cat Rhoden Goguen

On Friday, May 10, 2019 three plays were performed in a night to honor playwright Cat Rhoden – Goguen. The three plays were: May I Have Your Attention, Please? (Clay County HS, Pioneer Drama),  The Most Human (Whitley Co HS, Brooklyn Publishers) and Unstoppable By Design (Premiere performance by Lynn Camp HS faculty and student combined cast) See video clips and photos of the performances.

Carol Graham podcast interview with Matt & Cat

Click on link below to hear the full interview with Matt Rifenburg and Cat Rhoden – Goguen about the writing and impact of, Unstoppable By Design. Thanks to Carol Graham, host of, Never Ever Give Up Hope for the opportunity to be a part of this podcast.


Upcoming Performances

Dare To Be Authentic Radio Show with Mari Mitchell featuring Matt Rifenburg and Cat Rhoden Goguen, Thursday, April 4 at 1:00 pm EST

Live call in show- must create a log in

Dare to Be Authentic Live Radio



Podcast Never Ever Give Up Hope with Carol Graham featuring Matt Rifenburg and Cat Rhoden Goguen, April 16, 2019



The Most Human

Chase High Speech and Debate
Forest City, NC
Whitley County High School, Williamsburg, KY @ Premiere, May 10, 2019 at 7:30 PM
May I Have Your Attention, Please?
Premiere, Clay Co HS, May 10, 2019 at 7:30 PM
Unstoppable By Design

Lynn Camp High School faculty and students

Premiere, May 10, 2019 at 7:30 PM

Lynn Camp Combined Student/Teacher Cast to Premiere Unstoppable by Design

Retired Knox County teacher and current playwright Catherine Rhoden-Goguen, visited the classroom of one of her former drama student Corri Taylor to share her newest play, “Unstoppable by Design” with Taylor’s students.

Rhoden-Goguen contacted Taylor about putting together a cast of both students and teachers for her newest play.

“Unstoppable by Design” highlights the life of Matt Rifenburg, who had to overcome several obstacles in order to achieve success, something Taylor’s students said they related to. They not only met with Rhoden-Goguen, but also Matt Rifenburg.

During the visit students got to know Rifenburg and his story, the inspiration behind the play, and read through several scenes.

These students and teachers from Lynn Camp will be performing “Unstoppable by Design” on May 10th at Union College.

Group Picture: Back: Saxon Crawford, Bobby Sinclair, Matt Rifenburg, Dalton Cook Middle: Lori Mullins, Brianna Agosto-Santiago, Masyn Mitchell, Corri Taylor Front: Catherine Rhoden-Goguen

Read Through

Richmond Register Coverage of Unstoppable By Design


Welcome to the Friday Five, where The Register asks five questions to preview local events or highlight area artists. Kentucky Playwrights Workshop is hosting an open reading of new works for the stage on Sunday from 2-5 p.m. in the Community Room of the Clark County Public Library. One of the plays feature the story of a Madison County resident. Catherine Rhoden-Goguen and Matt Rifenburg provide more details.
1 How did you find out about Matt Rifenburg?
Cat: My father had died in September 2017, very unexpectedly and I had been in the longest trauma and mourning period of my life. Sort of just mindlessly scrolling through things on the internet one night, I saw a post on Quora. The post was by a person in their 20’s who was experiencing some hardships and was asking if his life was over. I could relate to that feeling and so I was interested to read the comments. Matt had posted a response outlining struggles in his own life and how he had turned things around by not giving up. Among the things he mentioned was dropping out of high school and then landing a job at Cornell University in the engineering department. Being a former teacher, that piqued my curiosity and I was also touched by the compassion he had shown in his response to this stranger who clearly needed someone to offer kind words. I read a link to an article that had been written about him that was included in his comment and that’s when I, without much thought, sent Matt a message to ask if he’d be interested in letting me tell his story through a one act play.
2 Why did you decide to make a play about Matt’s life? Matt, how did you feel when Cat contacted you about writing a play about your life?
Cat: The initial attraction to Matt’s story was high school drop out who finds success through hard work and that offers hope. I needed to believe that was still true but it had not been my experience as a teacher that those students who dropped out found that type of success. I thought this type play would perhaps be a catalyst for young people. After speaking with Matt however, I quickly discovered there were so many more layers to his life and I was in awe really of him at that point. So many times he could have and most people would have given up but he didn’t and I wanted to know why. The conflict was there. The message was there and the writing challenge was there. What I didn’t know was that I was the one who needed the message. I would say ironically, Matt saved my life so I could write the story of his. How could I not write his story?
Matt: It was a bit strange and amusing at first, since I didn’t know her well at that point. A magazine had previously written an article about me and that worked out pretty well, so I said, ” ok” when she asked. I had always felt that my story was only marginally interesting, but Cat was enthusiastic, and allowed me to make changes as I saw fit. The whole process was pretty interesting, and during the course of writing it, and talking to Cat, I began to realize there is more to the story than even I had realized.
3 How did the writing process go for such a unique play?
Cat: The play process began with emails. I would send questions and he was very open in answering anything I asked. It then progressed to texting and long phone conversations and eventually a face to face meeting. I was very mindful of my role in this playwriting experience being different than in my other works. I didn’t feel it was my job to make it a more artistic piece than it was. I wanted to stay true to his story. So any edits he wanted, I obliged because again, I was the storyteller moreso than the story creator Luckily, we worked great together and there were very few changes he asked me to make.
Matt: Cat and I talked a bit about the process, and she sent me a ton of questions to get her started, and from my answers she developed the first draft. She did a great job. We spoke a few times about questions she had, and I think it was less than 2 weeks before I read the first draft. We had a couple of long conversations on the phone where we went through the play and made changes to wording, or where something needed to be changed for accuracy. There were many thousands of texts to talking about different things, and the second draft was largely what the play is now. I later changed a couple things that didn’t have the feel I wanted after we did a read through with the readers you will see Sunday. We got a lot of great feedback from people who have read it so far, and it is growing into a pretty amazing project, with many future possibilities.
4 Where can people hear the reading of the play?
Cat: Clark County Library in Winchester, KY will host the premiere reading of Unstoppable by Design. It will be on Sunday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) at 1:30. It is free to the public and refreshments will be served.
5 What can people expect at the workshop Sunday?
Cat: There will be three plays that receive readings and this event is sponsored by Kentucky Playwrights Workshop. After each play there will be a Q and A session so it’s very interactive. I am so very thrilled that we will also have Matt in attendance and he is more than willing to answer questions as well. Richmond is very fortunate, as was I, to have him here and I hope the community who might be looking for a feel good story or perhaps the student who has an interest in engineering and mechanical design will attend. It’s free and a great way to support new works of Kentucky playwrights.
Matt: We have 8 amazing readers who have volunteered to do a reading of Cat’s latest play “Unstoppable By Design”. It is the story of how I went from a high school dropout to designing and building particle accelerators at Cornell University, along with a few roadblocks along that path. There is drama, humor, and flashbacks in the play depicting a few of the events that I have been through. Most people should be able to identify some similarities in their own lives, and leave the play reading with the thought that you don’t have to settle for the life you have, and it is possible build the life you want. It will be a unique experience because it is rare that you have both the writer of the play, and the person on whose life the play is based in the same room, and be able to ask questions about it. And, there will be cookies…



Unstoppable By Design, Advocate part 2

A retired Knox County teacher and current Playwright, Catherine Rhoden-Goguen, will soon reveal her newest play called “Unstoppable by Design” on Sunday, March 17.

“Unstoppable by Design” highlights the life of Matt Rifenburg, who endures throughout a journey of life’s obstacles in pursuit to achieve success, despite the possibility of failure.

“Will his drive and perseverance be enough, or was his fate sealed with the first blow?”, as quoted from Rhoden-Goguen’s website.

“Unstoppable by Design” is not the only play she has written. Her first, “May I Have Your Attention, Please?” won the Critic’s Choice Award for the Wisconsin State One Act PlayFestival.

She even had the opportunity to discuss the writing process and inspiration for “Unstoppable by Design” on the podcast called: Strength to Be Human by Mark Antony Rossi.

“I want to write plays that engage the audience in thinking, questioning,” Rhoden-Goguen said, “And then with those results, I want them to go a step further and have my plays be a catalyst for action…even if that is just beginning a discussion about a difficult to talk about subject.”

Her plays have been performed at colleges, community theaters and on high school stages. She will continue to share her passion of drama with many others at Clark County Library in Winchester, Kentucky on St. Patrick’s Day.


Samantha Walden, reporterIMG_E7592[2]

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