An Interview with the Cast and Crew of 'The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?'

 Emily Grant asked the director, producer, and cast of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, which goes up the 8th and 9th of February in The Barron Theatre a few questions about their production and theatre in general.  First, we asked director Mandarr Brandi a few questions:  The Tribe: Mandarr, what inspired you to want to direct this play?Mandarr Brandi (Director): Generally, if the mere thought of staging a particular play upon first reading inspires a sense of abject terror, it means I’m onto something good. The Tribe: Do you think there are enough provocative shows in St Andrews?Mandarr: Well, it’s university. Cursing and various states of scantily-clad-ness are never hard to come by. One of my guilty pleasures in staging ‘The Goat’ has been the chance to savor working with ‘shocking’ material that’s not only shocking, but shocking in unconventional ways. The Tribe: How would you like to see the envelope pushed in St Andrews in the future?Mandarr: Anything that triggers reflection is inherently a good thing to have on a stage. I like to see things that break us from the rut a bit, because then who knows what can happen? ‘The Goat,’ I think, is in one sense a simple play, and one that has quite a bit to say. Not everyone is going to want to hear it. I need to hear it. So I put it on.I think if those of us interested in making art in St. Andrews first find what challenges us, what makes us uncomfortable, grapple with it, and then attempt to make some expression of our efforts widely accessible, we can accomplish something communicative. Plus, you know, any excuse to break stuff.  Photo credit goes to Natalie English Then we turned to ask questions to the entire cast and crew:  The Tribe: What made you want to audition for this show in the first place?Edie Deffebach (Stevie): The first time I read Albee it was such an eye opening experience of what a play can be. Complex and at the same time completely nonsensical. So I suppose it was the allure of Albee which drew me in initially. Peter Stanley (Martin): Albee's script was a big draw for me. His dialogue is razor sharp, and balances dark comedy with intense tragedy in a way that is both challenging and hugely entertaining to perform.  The Tribe: Do you feel like this production has a strong sense of cast unity? Natalie English (Producer): I think our cast has done an amazing job bonding. It’s such an intense show so we all get on very well – even if I do get picked on. Peter: This play is such a huge undertaking that we knew from the start we'd need to be close as a cast. I think our unity really shows in the energy levels we've started to create on set, and it's been a privilege working with such a great group of people.Photo credit goes to Natalie English Edie: You can't not have a level of trust and comfort with this production. I think all four actors have provided a safety net to explore what could potentially be some really awkward situations. It can be emotionally draining at the end of some rehearsals so we're good at making each other laugh as well!   The Tribe: I understand that the cast of characters is quite strange—has that made it hard to get in their heads? Edie: I didn't have any difficulties becoming Stevie, it was pretty organic. The situation she faces is never one I wish to see myself in but I think that everyone has the ability to find within themselves 'the character' they wish to portray. In the beginning a lot of it is asking myself 'how would I react' and go from there. Peter: The absurdist elements of the play make getting inside Martin's head difficult, even impossible at first. Bringing the character to life has been a long process, but I feel he's now finally at the stage where people will sympathise with him deeply, even if they never fully understand his situation. Which is what Albee would perhaps want. Jamie Jones (Billy): Actually, despite the rather “adult themed” content, what is great about this play is that all of the characters are actually very run-of-the-mill, they have just been thrown into a rather unorthodox situation. However I have found it difficult to find different motivations for the 16 different times in which my character bursts into tears. The Tribe: Why should we come see this show?Mandarr: Other than to temporarily assuage my crippling narcissism, you mean? The show has a tendency to level people.  Prepare to feel leveled. Edie: It will hopefully, as any good show should, transport you to a place where you can critically think about things other than your deadline. And it's a good laugh! Peter: It's funny, it's smart, it's harrowing, and it's provocative in the way all good theatre should be. Joe Cunningham (Ross): Because you and me, baby, we ain’t nothin’ but mammals.  The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? goes up in The Barron Theatre on Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th of February with a matinee in addition to the evening performance on the 9th. Email ne22@st-andrews.ac.uk to reserve tickets ahead of time or check out their Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/342948905821303/?fref=ts.  Photo credit goes to Natalie English   Emily Grant