EDINBURGH 2017: BWW Q&A- Goody
Tell us a bit about Goody
I began writing about an ape character a few years ago. Unfortunately I then lost the notebook full of Goody ideas on the train home from the Edinburgh Festival! It was heart-breaking to have to start from scratch, but Goody will finally make it back there! Hopefully no-one found that notebook and are doing a similar play down across the road.
Goody is a fictional play inspired by both historical and present day performing apes. Set in 1934 Dust Bowl America - backstage at the travelling circus of Boon and Doggett - we meet a young trainer, Frances, and his performing chimpanzee, Goody. Marooned in a circus, in a land she does not comprehend, what would an animal like this cling to? What does it take to make this relationship work? What has been, and what will be sacrificed to maintain it? This play is about communication and about finding a way to make yourself understood from both sides.
What inspired the play?
I was interested to create a play which relied more on body language - to understand the characters, you would have to watch them closely. Perhaps this is their best way of making themselves understood. This play is set within, what will be, a series of interlinking plays all set within the same circus, of which Goody is one. In this period especially, circuses were huge events - a triumphant moving community, and animals played a big part. Taken from their habitats, performing tricks that don't make sense - what does it take to turn these creatures into performers?
Why is it important for people to see it?
As a dark comedy we hope people will enjoy the show first of all! And I hope it will resonate with people. Mainly it is about a performing chimp, as much as they may form a bond with their keeper, this is not an easy life. Their lives revolve around a show and there is nowhere for them to go outside of that. They are wild and strong and who should be surprised when they act as such. It is their nature.
Who would you recommend comes to see Goody?
I hope people who enjoy theatre, and enjoy a psychological puzzle. It is a character piece, and so hopefully we have laid clues of their situation out to be pieced together and seen as a whole. How have they ended up like this? Who is in control?
And you're donating all the profits?
All the research over the past two years has led me time and again in particular to the Monkey World Ape sanctuary in Dorset. This is a wonderful place full of people who are dedicated to the care of the animals they have rescued, to try and rehabilitate them and give them a nice life. I shake to think what they would make of this abstract play, but along with other research and articles I've read on the psychology of apes and the experience of trainers, the character of Goody is inspired by many of these apes and how their lives alongside people have shaped them. It feels only fair that with any profits we make we hope to adopt the beautiful chimps of Monkey World, as many times over as we can.
Timings and ticket information for Goody are available on the edfringe website.
Photo Credit: Paul Hancock