The Goat, Or Who is Sylvia?

By Sarah Waghorn — June 4, 2012

When you’re the Head of Props at a theatre company, a lot of strange things come your way. A few years back, while at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, I was required to make a life size, recently slaughtered goat. Yes, this is true.

The goat was for an Edward Albee play called The Goat, or Who is Sylvia and the production was making its Canadian Premiere at the GCTC. Now, when I am presented a new challenge I did what most of us do – I turned to Google. I quickly learned that there were only two other theatre companies in the world who had presented this play (New York and London). I called them up and discovered that they were less than satisfied with the Goats they had built and had spent many thousands of dollars being disappointed. Now I had the challenge of creating Sylvia for less than a $300 budget and no real successful reference to draw from.

Where to start? When you want to learn about a goat the first thing you should do is talk to a goat. I headed to local petting farm and measured one (sort of – it wouldn’t really stay still.) I got some basic supplies together and got started.

The body was pretty easy to form with foam and chicken-wire, the neck was fabric stiffened with white glue, and for the head – Styrofoam. After a few false starts the legs ended up being dowel with hinged joints and carefully carved hooves.

The finished carcass was covered by hand in trimmed fur and its muzzle was created using pieces from a latex wolf mask.

The end result was a wonderfully realistic goat that made the audience gasp as its hooves touched the stage when it was laid down.

The grand total for materials was $168 and an awesome experience.