Goat & Monkey presents Macbeth during Shakespeare Oxford 2016
A trippy element of Shakespeare Oxford 2016, equipped with wireless headphones and binaural sounds, The Devil Speaks True is Macbeth through the eyes of Banquo
Sam Bennett talked post-traumatic stress disorder and taxidermy with Goat & Monkey director Joel Scott.
The name Goat & Monkey derives from a visit the company took to Walter Potter's Museum of Curiosities. “This guy has just stuffed animals.” Joel said. “He stuffed 21 kittens and they’ve been put in wedding dresses – really weird stuff!” Joel, along with colleagues Ian Summers and Sally Scott (the latter also being his wife), reached one display that struck a chord with them – albeit a revolting and sinister one. Before them was a stuffed goat in a waistcoat being ridden by a monkey in a fez and cape. “It was hideous,” Joel recalled, “and we thought it would be a great name for a company! Goat & Monkey is born out of the horror of Victorian taxidermy!”
From stuffing to Shakespeare, I asked the director about his early experiences of the Bard, in response to which he tracked back to an embarrassed 14 year old Joel playing Puck in a skin-tight snakeskin suit. Other theatrical encounters, such as seeing Stephen Dillane as Hamlet at Chichester Festival Theatre, would then show him how exciting and crazy Shakespeare can be. It seems to be something that has inspired him to inject excitement and craziness into the Shakespeare of his own company.
How does he sum up the new Goat & Monkey show? “We’re telling Macbeth not from Macbeth’s perspective but from Banquo’s.” He told me. “What Banquo hears and sees the audience hears and sees. They wear these headphones which play binaural sounds. You hear the sound in detail so if Banquo’s heart is racing, you hear it – like in real life when you can hear your own heart beating.” And why Macbeth? “The key reason is that it ties in with post-traumatic stress disorder.” Said Joel. “I didn’t really get it at first. But I talked to some servicemen and now I do.” The Devil Speaks True opens with Banquo on a Scottish battlefield in what is a harrowing fight. “Banquo’s seen some things and is haunted by them. Our play looks at how being in that conflict zone unravels. We’re looking at post-traumatic stress disorder in people who have been in conflict zones and what it’s like when they come home.”
Beyond just relying on servicemen for research, Goat & Monkey have recorded their words and incorporated them into the performance. “When you hear an actor talking, unless it’s Ben Whishaw or Ian Mckellen, I think you can pretty much tell it’s an actor reading out lines.” Joel said. “But these guys are talking totally from the heart – it’s incredible.”
Goat and Monkey come to the Old Fire Station on 17th March (7.30pm). There won’t just be things to see and hear. “People will smell things and things are going to happen to them.” Joel warned. “They’re going to experience some strange stuff – it should be pretty awesome!”
The Devil Speaks True
17th March, 7.30pm at Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AQ
£14, £12 concs
01865 305305 | www.ticketsoxford.com | in person at Oxford Playhouse Box Office, Beaumont Street
Shakespeare Oxford 2016
2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. The Bard is being celebrated in all manner of ways by brilliant companies at some of our favourite venues.
Be sure to experience Shakespeare Oxford 2016.
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