Theatre News

Royal Court play to feature herd of goats live onstage

Syrian playwright Liwaa Yazji’s piece opens at the venue this month

The Royal Court has issued a statement explaining how it intends to have a live herd of goats onstage during its upcoming production of Goats.

The show, written by Syrian playwright and documentary filmmaker Liwaa Yazji and translated by Katharine Halls, began life as a rehearsed reading at the venue. It is set in a war-torn Syrian village, where, to appease grieving families, a local leader decides to compensate deaths of sons with a free goat. Hamish Pirie directs.

The six to eight goats will not be tethered or coerced throughout the show, and the stage has been adapted to prevent any spontaneous goat climbing or munching. They will also be cared for by dedicated group Animal Actors.

The venue said: "We have committed to delivering the writer’s vision by engaging a small herd of live goats for the duration of the five week run. As with all of our animal practices we have researched, collaborated with and taken advice from professional welfare bodies (RSPCA, vets, Defra), and instilled best practice to ensure the welfare of the goats is paramount throughout the process."

"We have prioritised a stress-free environment and experience for the goats. The breed and age of the goats we are using has been chosen to ensure the goats’ ease and comfort within the stage environment. These are pygmy nanny goats who are comfortable being handled, and who are often engaged in public human interaction (at farm parks, childrens’ parties etc). They will have had six weeks of preparation and induction, including meeting the cast and attending rehearsals and the theatre."

"The goats are housed in an excellent environment with Animal Actors, with access to shelter, clean water, food, space to roam and companionship. The owners are highly experienced animal owners and handlers who have been in business for over 40 years."

"The goats will be transported daily to the theatre where a fenced passage will guide them into a custom-built shelter and pen in our alleyway. "

The show has an ensemble cast including Ali Barouti, Ishia Bennison, Carlos Chahine, Amir El-Masry, Souad Faress, Amer Hlehel, Ethan Kai, Khalid Laith, Adnan Mustafa, Isabella Nefar, Farshid Rokey and Sirine Saba.

In April of this year, the Royal Opera House hosted a herd of sheep onstage for their opera The Exterminating Angel.

Goats runs at the Royal Court from 30 November to 30 December with previews from 24 November.