Goat is a new dance theatre creation from rising star Ben Duke. Darkly funny and deeply moving, it dissects the pleasure and pain of performing. The work is inspired by the music and spirit of Nina Simone, with a selection of her best-loved songs – including Feeling Good, Ain’t Got No/I Got Life and Feelings – performed live by an onstage band led by jazz singer Nia Lynn.

“In the village where I was brought up there was a tradition on New Year’s Eve of writing on a piece of paper two things you wanted to rid yourself of – it could be something bad that had happened to you, or something bad that you had done. The pieces of paper were placed inside a can which was tied to the tail of a goat. The goat was supposed to disappear over the horizon and take our sins with it. Usually it ran for five seconds or so then stopped to eat some grass. Some years it came running back towards us…” Ben Duke

Goat in rehearsal

“It turns out we are making a piece about impotence, and our desire to impact the world, to make a difference and to somehow help when things are going to shit in the public and private spheres. It is made up of grief, struggle, beauty and the personalities of this inspiring company.”

Read Ben Duke’s rehearsal diary in The Guardian.

Nina Simone and the music of Goat

The complexity of Nina Simone’s sound defies categorisation. The breadth of the music she sang ranged from jazz standards to musical theatre, from folk to pop, all accompanied by her fiercely trained classical fingers.

However, it was more than Simone’s technical prowess which drew her loyal following. Her life was turbulent to say the least, and the unashamed rawness with which she presented herself on stage offered her audience a glimpse of the passionate, daring and sometimes struggling woman behind the music.

We cannot recreate that, but the song arrangements used in Goat aim to represent the original Nina Simone versions as faithfully as possible. Some are close to direct transcriptions.

Yshani Perinpanayagam musical arranger

Listen to our playlist: the original Nina Simone recordings of the music featured in Goat

Ben Duke
Tom Rogers
Lighting design:
Jackie Shemesh
Feeling Good (Newley / Bricusse)
Ain't Got No/I Got Life (MacDermott)
My Way (François / Revaux / Anka)
The Ballad of Hollis Brown (Dylan)
Feelings (Albert / Gaste)
Music director:
Yshani Perinpanayagam
Video design:
Will Duke
Choreographic assistant:
Winifred Burnet-Smith

Premiere at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 26 October 2017.


Ben Duke © Alicia ClarkBen Duke

Ben is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Lost Dog. For Lost Dog, Ben has created Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me), which won the National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance and was nominated for a Total Theatre award and a South Bank Sky Arts award.

Ben’s other recent work for Lost Dog includes Like Rabbits, created with award winning writer Lucy Kirkwood, and It Needs Horses. As well as his work for Lost Dog, Ben has directed and choreographed works for Scottish Dance Theatre (The Life and Times of Girl A), Phoenix Dance Theatre (Pave up Paradise), The Gate Theatre (The Sexual Neuroses of our Parents) and The National Theatre of Scotland (Dolls).

Ben trained at the Guildford School of Acting and the London Contemporary Dance School, and has a first class degree in English Literature from Newcastle University. His work is an attempt to reconcile these three trainings.

Ben is a Work Place artist.

Nia Lynn

Nia Lynn is a highly skilled contemporary performer, widely regarded for her knowledge of jazz performance. In her initial training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama she  specialised in jazz voice, and has since studied community music, improvisation,  composition, interpretation and delivery of text, body and breath, contemporary performance and vocal pedagogy, attaining a Masters of Arts from Central School of Speech & Drama.

Nia is an educator and facilitator, with teaching residencies in France, Australia and the  United States. She is a regular voice coach for companies such as Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (The Welsh National Theatre) and the Royal Shakespeare Company, with other recent voice credits including Donmar Warehouse, Wales Millennium Centre, the Young Vic & The Lyric Hammersmith. She is currently Principle Study Jazz Singing Teacher at the Royal Academy of Music and The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Tom Rogers

Tom trained on the Motley Theatre Design Course and was a Linbury Prize finalist with his work with Wayne MacGregor for Random Dance.

Opera includes: Powder Her Face (Opera Philadelphia); Carmen (Teatro Petruzelli Bari, Italy & Castleton Festival, USA); Il Matrimonio Segreto, La Cenerentola (Scottish Opera); La Fille Du Regiment (Opera Holland Park); Let’s Make An Opera (Aldeburgh).

Theatre includes: Big Fish (The Other Palace); The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole (Menier Chocolate Factory/Leicester Curve); The Snow Queen, The Rivals, The Misanthrope (Bristol Old Vic); The Choir (Glasgow Citizens); Grey Gardens (Southwark Playhouse); Ragtime (Charing Cross); Five Guys Named Moe (Edinburgh); Racing Demon, 20 Tiny Plays About Sheffield (Sheffield Crucible); Oliver!, The Secret Adversary, A Bunch Of Amateurs, The Witches Of Eastwick, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Radio Times (Watermill); Echo’s End, Bedroom Farce, Separate Tables, The Recruiting Officer, Joking Apart, The Spire, Epsom Downs, The Game of Love and Chance (Salisbury Playhouse); My Judy Garland Life, Joking Apart (Nottingham Playhouse); Each His Own Wilderness, The Man Who (Orange Tree);  Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales (The Bargehouse, South Bank and Shoreditch Town Hall);  Beacons (Park); Beyond The Fence (Arts); Moominland Midwinter (The Egg, Theatre Royal Bath); Happy Days (UK tour), Radio Times (UK tour); Llwyth (Sherman Cymru, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru Tour & Taiwan); Laughing Gas (Theatre Royal Plymouth and UK tour).

As Costume Designer: Robbie Williams’ Swings Both Ways worldwide tour, Even Better Than The Real Thing (BBC1); Let It Shine (BBC1) and Britain’s Got Talent (ITV) since 2015.

Forthcoming projects include: Written On Skin (Opera Philadelphia).

Jackie Shemesh

Jackie Shemesh designs lighting for dance, theatre and visual art. He has collaborated with Ben Duke and Lost Dog for more than a decade, designing for most of their works.

He has worked with dance organisations such as the Batsheva Ensemble, BalletBoyz, Scottish Dance Theatre, Dorky Park (Berlin), National Welsh Dance, Candoco Dance and Protein Dance and choreographers including Stephanie Schober, Jamila Johnson-Small, Eva Recacha, Nigel Charnock, Hetain Patel, Alexander Whitley and more.

Theatre credits include Ramayana for the Lyric Hammersmith; The Hound of theBaskervilles for Peepolykus and Neal Street Productions; Vanya and Mary Stuart (Rob Icke) for Almeida Theatre; As You Like It, The Return of Ulysses and What we did to Weinstein for Tim Supple; The Penal Colony, Man and Oh My Sweet Land for Young Vic Theatre; Islands and The Beloved for the Bush Theatre.

Other collaborations include Recital for Cathy; From Canyons to Stars for the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra; Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland and What If Women Ruled The World for Yael Bartana (Berlin); This Unfortunate Thing Between Us and Delete Beach for Phil Collins (Berlin); Communist Bigamist for Cheap Kolektiv (Berlin); The Magic Flute (NYC) and Camp Anti Camp!

Will Duke

Will is a video designer and visual artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the UK and internationally. Dance credits include: Comma 40 (Bloomberg Space, London); The Difference Engine (set and video design, The Dance Umbrella, Gate Theatre London); Missing (Gecko Theatre Company); Discombobulator (Dance Umbrella Festival, Purcell Room, London); Salvage (Lost Dog, Newbury Corn Exchange and UK tour); The Rain Parade (Lost Dog, UK tour).

Theatre credits include: The Tempest (Comédie-Française); Wings (Young Vic); Pygmalion (Headlong and West Yorkshire Playhouse); Beware of Pity (Complicité, Barbican Centre and Schaubuhne, Berlin); The Narrow World (with Melanie Wilson and The British Council); The Encounter (Complicité; International Tour and Golden Theatre, Broadway); The Snow Queen (Bristol Old Vic); Queen Anne (RSC); Dusk (Fevered Sleep, Young Vic and UK tour).

Opera credits include: The Rake’s Progress (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence); Snow Maiden (Opera North); Simplicius Simplicissimus (Independent Opera, Sadler’s Wells); Kommilitonen! (Welsh National Youth Opera); Opera for the Unknown Woman (with Melanie Wilson, WMC and Fuel); Benjamin, Derniere Nuit (Opera Lyon).

Will is the recipient of the 2016 Knights of Illumination Award for Best Projection Design for his work on The Encounter.

Winifred Burnet-Smith

Born and raised in Brighton, Winifred Burnet-Smith trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, Ecole Superieure de Danse de Cannes and Rotterdam Dance Academy.

She began her dance career with Galili Dance in the Netherlands and then went on to work with Granhoj Dans in Denmark, before returning to England to work with Russel Maliphant from 2005 to 2007. In 2007, she became a founding member of Hofesh Shechter Company, where she stayed until 2016.

Currently she works as a freelance artist, teaching workshops and restaging Shechter’s work.

Yshani Perinpanayagam
Company Pianist

In addition to her work for Rambert, Yshani Perinpanayagam is pianist of the Del Mar Piano Trio and a pianist for the Olivier award winning show Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. She was Music Director for circus troupe Circa at the Barbican and Assistant Music Director for the Royal Opera House West End transfer of Wind in the Willows.

She has performed at events including the Oxford Lieder Festival and the Soundings Platform for Contemporary Music. As part of an exploration into computer game music, Yshani recently performed new works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Benjamin Oliver and Blake Troise for piano with Commodore 64 and bespoke 1-bit machines.

Yshani was winner of the 10th Yamaha  Birmingham Accompanist of the Year Award and is a member of staff at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, teaching Musicianship and Composition.

Showing at:

  • Théâtre de la Ville, France

    Théâtre de la Ville
    2 Place du Châtelet Paris, France 75004
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