TOP Damian Lewis Moments 2017: “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?”

While we have no intention of ranking TOP Damian Lewis moments of the year, one extremely thrilling moment in 2017 — well, all 12 weeks of it — was to have our favorite actor back on stage in an incredibly strong performance in Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at Theatre Royal Haymarket. And we hope you join us in visiting the play’s 12-week West End run from previews to media appearances to jam sessions to stage door experiences. Cheers!

Previews

Before the previews started, Damian was a guest on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 answering questions about why he is putting himself into this — doing a play — again, because it’s terrifying, isn’t it?

source: BBC2 Radio

“Yeah, we’re in crack week. You know, Week 3… When we’re turning a quite good play into something quite terrible.

I’m doing it because, I think, to be serious for a second, I think theatre is important, Chris, and, I think, the coming together and sharing a story with a live audience, and you’re fresh and new minted every night is an exciting, congregational experience that we don’t have in our lives as much anymore.”

Evans then asks about what he calls “the preview malarkey.” If you read the play, and like it, and you like the director, and you rehearse it, why do you do “previews” in the actual theatre in front of live audiences several times before the opening night? Why don’t you go from rehearsals directly to the real run?

That is what Damian has to say about previews:

“You basically spend a lot of psychological energy convincing yourself that that’s all you’re going to do, that is you’re going to continue to reveal this work of art, this play, and it will continue to reveal itself and it will only ever be a work in progress and none of us feel the pressure of the press night — when the press come in, judge you, and then write personal things about you the next day in the national press.

So that is the sort of psychological trick you play on yourself, of course it’s all nonsense and you know you’re like a hamster on a wheel, you know, just furiously paddling to try to get it ready in time.

But what has started to happen here, which they do a bit on Broadway, is that they bring the press in now over two or three nights so the press night itself — the pressure is taken off. But now you run the risk then of a journalist coming in three days, basically, before you feel ready.”

Opening Night

It is probably an actor’s nightmare to get sick days before the opening night, and Damian catches an awful cold, being passed round the cast and crew, only  a few days before the opening night. He ends up in an emergency room only to find out he has a great big hole in his ear drum. Being the true trooper that he is, Damian goes on stage, but he admits, after the performance, there were difficult moments.

Yikes!

Still, he is in high spirits, and, in his own words, “high as a kite” at the Opening Night Afterparty at Villandry thanks to performance-enhancing drugs (unlike sports, they are legal in theater) 😀

source: Getty Images
source: Getty Images

Reviews

Well, it seems even that awful cold could not meddle with Damian’s brilliant performance! We have a good compilation of the fantastic reviews here and love to share a few of our favorites below…

Michael Billington of The Guardian:

“Lewis perfectly captures Martin’s initial unease, as he absent-mindedly rubs his thigh with his glasses and looks through rather than at people. The high point comes, though, when he admits to the terrifying solitude that comes from being a sexual outlaw in a society where love has strict parameters.”

Paul Taylor of The Independent:

“Damian Lewis (of Homeland fame) gives the performance of his life. He’s the still-preppy-after-all-these-years pedant who corrects other people’s grammar (“whom!”) even as he gingerly reveals his, erm, pet perversion. And he’s as much the butt of demonic possession as any Euripidean protagonist. He opens his wallet and shyly takes out a passport photo of the goat, which he hands round as if she were the young lovely he was squiring to her first prom.”

You can also find JaniaJania’s, Lewisto’s and my reviews herehere and here. And don’t miss this nice little video, a visual summary of what the audiences and the critics think about the play.

Elvis Jam Session

Well, if you give Damian a piano, he plays it! The piano on stage in The Goat is no exception. This little moment with Damian and Archie jamming to Elvis is PRICELESS. Thank you Nicole Charles for sharing it!

Media Appearances

During the run, Damian also made a few media appearances.

He talked to Andrew Marr on BBC1 about The Goat as well as about Billions. You can see the interview in its entirety here.

Then he did a FUN Guardian WebChat and answered a number of questions on different topics. I was thrilled that he gave a very detailed answer to my question and it turns out Damian did not know who asked what and answered my question just because he thought it was a good one. I am flattered, thank you!

source: The Guardian

Me: Why did you choose The Goat for your return to the West End stage?”

Damian: “I think The Goat is a modern American classic. I think it’s a play about love and tolerance, and I think an exploration of different expressions of love, different manifestations of love, and what we’re prepared to tolerate and accept seemed apt for now. We’re surrounded by examples of rejection at the moment, on the macro, and on the micro level. A retrenching; a resurgence of nationalism. I think there’s a degree on unease, of uncertainty around – I think that always makes people feel anxious. I think building bridges with Europe is preferable to taking them down, but we’ll have to see what it means in actual terms over the next couple of years. I resent the amount of political time, space and money it’s going to take up – I think that’s unnecessary. In terms of what’s going on in America, whilst it can be frustrating when we feel politicians don’t say anything of consequence, or seem to obfuscate always, we’ve seen how damaging and dangerous it can be when someone uses language irresponsibly. And we’ve seen it really does matter what you say. Words have power; they are what give meaning to our experience. It’s how we understand, shape and recount our experiences, collectively. Which is another reason this play is so good to do right now, because in it, words are used as weapons. Language is of paramount importance in the play. There’s a pedantry in the play about language and how it should be used. It should be used with precision. The Goat, as a metaphor, represents other. For Albee it was his own homosexuality as a young man in the 1950s, but it can be taken to mean anything that we don’t understand or are ignorant of.

It’s also a brilliant theatrical experience, both to perform and to watch – it’s laceratingly funny, sad, and totally absurd at times.”

The way Damian connects The Goat not just to love and tolerance but also to politics — from Brexit to American presidential elections to use of words as weapons — is fascinating and attests to both Albee’s brilliance and The Goat’s timeliness.

The annoying cell phones

We first got the news on Twitter

…then Damian talked about it very openly on Guardian WebChat!

Question: As a theatre goer, I absolutely hate the noise made by sweet packets. Does it annoy you as an actor, or are you able to completely block out distractions?

Damian: “It annoys me intensely. We haven’t asked for them to be banned as they have in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There were a lot of phones going off the other night, and someone took their vey annoying ringtone out of their bag, and it got much louder briefly, and for some reason this person just took it out and let it ring loudly. I was so dumbfounded by that, that I did stop performing briefly, and ask if they were going to get it. We went straight back in – Sophie was with me on stage, she was incredibly focused, and it actually was kind of electric. We carried right on and the audience didn’t miss a beat with us. And were fully engaged immediately.”

I don’t know about you but I give Damian a standing ovation for what he did! I am equally dumbfounded by those who text and whisper and play with their playbills during a performance without even thinking for a second that it is DISRESPECTFUL both for the performers and the fellow audience members.

Masterclass or “Goad, Lacerate, Raise Whirlwinds.”

Damian also took the time to give a free masterclass for young actors aged 16 – 30, as part of the Masterclass, the brilliant in-house charity of the Royal Theatre Haymarket for the last 19 years.

Social media was our eyes and ears for the masterclass, and here is a selection of tweets showing that young actors genuinely enjoyed the masterclass and the adjectives they used for the class include “awesome”, “enlightening”, “brilliant”, “inspiring”, “insightful” and “motivating.”

source: Masterclass.co.uk

The “pee break”

Towards the end of the 12 week run, there was a small fire in the theatre that they had to evacuate in the middle of the play. If you wanna Damian giving a hilarious explanation, swipe until the end! Gotta LOVE that guy!

VIPs

Damian also entertained guests who came to see The Goat — be it a Tottenham Hotspur football star, American magicians or Hollywood A-List actors!

Stage Door

And, almost after every performance, Damian made time for fans at stage door signing programs, tickets and taking selfies! Here is a sweet collage I put together with fan photos I collected from social media  — take a look, maybe you will find yourself there! BIG thanks for sharing the pictures on Twitter and Instagram!

All fans in this fandom are special. But I want to highlight a few stage door experiences with fans that have had special relationships with Fan Fun.

source:Linda

Linda was there early in the run, and guess what, she and her namesake, Lynda, who very kindly guest-blogged about Damian’s philantropic efforts here and here, got to meet at the stage door!

Then from left to right…

source: Carolin, Rachel, Cynthia

Carolin! She is a wonderful fan from Germany whom I was very happy to meet that very night at the theater. I am not giving details not to spoil Carolin’s wonderful fan story which you can read here.

Rachel! I knew she was a brilliant fan from London, but I now also know she is a true friend! Rachel gave Damian the paper he holds that says HELLO to lovely Krista, another brilliant fan, who has not been able to see The Goat. This is one of the most beautiful gestures I have ever seen in my life. Hats off, Rachel!

Cynthia! If you have read her incredible fan story, you already know she “discovered” Damian in Hamlet on Broadway in 1995! Cynthia, 22 years later, did not only see Damian on stage again and but also shared her story with him! How cool is that?

And my lovely Tsvetanka! Well, even though she saw the play three times, she was too shy to go to stage door… until a certain “enabler” started to work on her…  I am happy to report Tsvetanka finally took her chance on the last day of the show. She was still too shy to ask for a photo but got a lovely autograph! 🙂

source: Tsvetanka

Gifts

Well, Damian was super kind for making time for us backstage and we were super excited to give him a surprise gift! In case you missed it, JaniaJania wrote that story here.

And the most beautiful gift came in the form of a hand-carved goat which Alison had to leave at stage door for Damian. Remembering that Damian told on Desert Island Discs that Helen gave him a whittling knife as a gift, I cannot help fantasize him whittling a Martin for this Sylvia 😀

Thanks

The fantastic photos Archie Madekwe shared on Twitter speak a thousand words — you can feel that The Goat team had as much a good time as we the viewers did! Thank you all for bringing The Goat to life and, in particular, to the Fab Four for the acting feast. STANDING OVATION!

Finally, we cannot thank you enough, Damian, for your time and making us feel special. We sincerely, and a bit selfishly, cannot wait for your happy return to stage. And, hmm, it would not hurt if you came to Broadway next time! 😀

I know this series is about Top Damian Lewis moments. However, Fan Fun with Damian Lewis also had a HUGE moment when Damian tweeted and thanked us for our celebration of The Goat‘s 12-week run, from previews to closing night, on the blog. It is not that we are expecting anything in return but his sweet gesture is everything. Thank you, Damian!

 

4 thoughts on “TOP Damian Lewis Moments 2017: “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?””

  1. Sweet post from the beginning to the end. Great pic collages, the tweets embeded and the videos though short are fabulous.
    Surprised to know Damian had actually a cold in the opening…I personally hate colds are like a way of body to say “I’m stressed” …and I say to myself…yeah I know but being sick doubles the stress hahahha…that’s just me.
    Gladly the drugs are legal in theatre 😀
    The Goat recap is great…it is as he says maybe all of us have that “goat” in our lives and we need to be more tolerant to differences, always with respect.
    Great surprise that poster collage JaniaJania and you put together…is it the same one you have in your profile pic?
    Krista said you put the audios from the George Orwell’s post….thank you for sharing with those outside the UK, you are a kind Angel!
    Maybe next year he is on Broadway, we run the NYC marathon together and can drop by his play….ohhhh dreaming is good and fortunately is free 🙂
    Happy Holidays to you and all the wonderful ladies and your husband behind the blog!

    1. Thank you! It was so much FUN to put it together both to re-live the experience and also to make a sweet tribute to one of the best stage performances I have ever seen in my life (and, I have seen A LOT).

      It seems a strain was wandering about on the Goat set for a few weeks during rehearsals and Damian was like the last one to catch it. You know, your body persists and persists and then gives up. Poor guy! It’s brave of him to go from emergency room directly to the stage for the press night, but I guess, it’s his job after all, and the show must go on no matter what. I felt for him, but I admit I was giggling as I read about performance drugs being legal in theatre!

      Regarding the poster: The poster had the playbill covers from all the plays Damian has done since drama school. He was genuinely moved. Which profile picture are you talking about?

      You are very welcome about George Orwell! I thought it is hard for everyone to go to London, but we could bring a bit of London to the blog for everyone 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it.

      NYC Marathon + Damian on Broadway = Sweetest Dream! Yes, I love it that dreaming is good and FREE, too!

      Sending big hugs to Buenos Aires, Happy Holidays!

  2. NOTLINDA’S BEST DAMIAN MOMENTS 2017
    1. Found Homeland
    2. Fell for Brody
    3. Met up with Fanfun
    4. Began participating in the blog
    5. Watched Keane
    6. Watched Wolf Hall, Colditz
    7. Came to admire Damian Lewis not only as Brody
    8. Saw my fanfic published
    9. Had a wonderful exchange with Jania Jania about Carrie/Brody relationship
    10. JJ made our exchange into a post
    11. Got to know Damianista who has taken us to so many sites (and sights) I wouldn’t have found on my own most recently The Ghost trailer for Season Two Homeland. Ach I love it! Damian’s classic “Brody face” at the end…..
    12. Got to know fellow devotees from, literally, all around the world!
    Resolution for 2018 – I’ll give Billions another chance!!

    1. What a fantastic list! As Damian has his best moments of the year, we have our own best Damian moments of the year, too! I love this SO MUCH! You know my own “meeting” with Brody was the point of departure for Fan Fun so I LOVE it that you also found your way to Fan Fun through Brody. And I am looking forward to publishing your second Brody fan fiction in early 2018! And I can’t be happier about your new year’s resolution. Please give another chance to Billions, I am sure it will be an explosive season. And, believe me, we will have a party here after each episode!

      I am so happy to know you, NotLinda, and all other fans we interact here. It is one thing, and a very important one, that Damian appreciates what we do. That said, we would not be here if we did not have you all here reading and supporting us! Thank you! Here’s to many many years of sharing Damian love altogether. Happy Holidays!

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