And the new year finds us exploring Edward Albee’s controversial, emotionally-charged The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? in which a highly-educated, highly-successful, married architect falls genuinely in love with a goat. But when trying to find out what this play is truly “about” and why Tennessee Rep has it on its season, I turned to the talented cast and director.
According to Matthew Carlton, who plays Martin–the man himself, “It’s about the mysterious nature of love, the bonds of family and friends and the fragility of what seems most steady and firm in our world.” Director Rene Copeland adds, “Betrayal in and of itself is not necessarily such a shocking theme in the world of storytelling. Betrayal is universal, but the answer to ‘how far is too far?’ is different for everyone, so by having this marriage threatened by such a universally unacceptable betrayal–physical relations with animals–Albee has managed to find a way to take us all on the same journey as Martin’s family and force us toward total empathy with the ensuing consequences.”
When asked the question, “Why is it important that this play be produced here in Nashville” each gave an interesting answer. Carlton responded, “All great art should be shared and this is a great play. It will stir debate and hopefully challenge the audience to look beyond norm when making easy moral judgements.” For Copeland, “[The Goat] is a brilliant play being produced by regional theatres all over the country, and I think that Nashville deserves to have such an important piece produced here. And more than that, I think that, despite any shock at the frankness of the subject or language, with Tennessee Rep’s fabulous technical designs and the stellar ensemble of actors theatre-goers will find themselves proud that theatre of this quality is being produced here in Middle Tennesee.”
As we head into our final week of performances, we have had overwhelming positive response to the play. Some audience members have walked out, but not as many as we had feared. Our marketing staff did a wonderful job in making sure that the word got out so that there would be as few surprises as possible when people showed up to the theatre. For those brave souls who put on their big-boy undies and came to see it, The Goat has offered an intense (and often surprisingly humerous) night of theatre unlike any other they’re likely to experience. Check out the critics’ reaction here.