Serious a play though it is, the USP of Liwaa Yazji’s new Royal Court drama ‘Goats’ is that there are real goats in it. Royal Court company manager Joni Carter introduces London’s newest stage sensations.
What are the goats’ names?
‘Their names are Emilia, Beauty, Leigh, Eek, Squeak and Belle.’
How do you recruit a herd of acting goats?
‘There were a couple of options: do we go for a company that supplies animals to film and theatre? Or do we talk to people who are goat-herders? In the end, we worked with a guy called Dez who works for Animal Actors; he lives on a farm in Essex. It’s where we got the goose for “The Ferryman” from and it’s where the goats live. They bring them into London in a little trailer and take them home in the evening.’
Are there any particular challenges associated with them?
‘We had to find a rehearsal room that was okay with them. The Jerwood Space was totally up for it, because it’s had pigs there so they were like, “whatever”.’
Do they have any prior stage experience?
‘This is their stage debut, actually. They haven’t acted before.’
How are they taking to it?
‘There are certain goats with certain actors, which is a part of the story, so they’ve got a bond with the actor they’re with. The other day, one of the actors forgot to put some hay in the place that’s integral to getting the goat across the stage and it still went to the place and did what it needed to do. So I think they are now trained.’
Is there a danger of them upstaging the humans?
‘They were definitely upstaging them a little bit at the start of the run. Last night, one of them just stood between two of the actors in their scene just looking at them. At the first preview, one of them was eating and then went down on to its knees and was posing for the audience.’
Are the goats happy?
‘They’re really very well looked after, they’ve got a really nice backstage area. The stage manager said when she went to collect them last night they were all at the door trying to push each other out of the way to be the first one on stage.’
Would you recommend working with goats?
‘I would. They’re not as smelly as people say.’
‘Goats’ is at the Royal Court until Dec 30.