‘Richard Iii’ Director Accused Of Cruelty To Animals At Trafalgar Studios
For Immediate Release:
12 September 2014
Ben Williamson +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 229; [email protected]
Martin Freeman’s Unwilling Co-Star – a Live Goldfish – Potentially ‘Ground Up With the Gravel’ in Drowning Scene
London – A woman who was excited to see Martin Freeman in the title role of Richard III at Trafalgar Studios reported to PETA that she was dismayed to see a live goldfish used in the production. She reported that from her vantage point, it appeared that the fish was “ground up with the gravel and pushed up against the sides of the tank” when a cast member submerged himself in the tank and “thrashed around wildly”. In response, PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – has sent a letter urging the production’s director, Jamie Lloyd, to stop using live fish in the shows.
“By the time Richard III’s body was found a couple of years ago, he was beyond feeling any pain – but goldfish are disturbed every night during Trafalgar Studios’ Richard III“, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA is telling Jamie Lloyd that his production won’t be truly ‘modern’ until he stops viewing the abuse of animals as ‘entertainment.'”
In its letter, PETA points out that allowing an actor to thrash around in the tank with a fish puts the animal at risk of injury and even death – and that removing the fish from the production would have no negative effect on the show whatsoever.
Fish don’t scream in pain the way that mammals do, but they do exhibit other pronounced reactions to painful stimuli, including strong muscular and behavioural avoidance and rapid respiration. Fish learn from one another, have long-term memories, recognise individuals in their schools, gather information by eavesdropping, can use tools and can even tell time.
PETA’s letter to Richard III director Jamie Lloyd is available below. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.
Dear Mr Lloyd,
I’m contacting you from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK – one of the largest animal rights groups in the country – because a concerned member of the public informed us that while she had been sitting in the front row at a performance of Richard III, it appeared to her that the goldfish used in the production was “ground up with the gravel and pushed up against the sides of the tank” while a cast member submerged himself in the tank and “thrashed around wildly”. The abuse of animals is not entertainment, and a theatre production is really not a suitable environment for fish or any other animals. With this in mind, I would like to ask you to stop using live goldfish in the production.
Experts from around the world report that fish are intelligent, sensitive animals who feel pain just like humans do. Although they don’t scream in pain in the same way as mammals, they do exhibit other pronounced reactions to painful stimuli, including strong muscular and behavioural avoidance and rapid respiration. A recent article published in the journal Fish and Fisheries cited more than 500 research papers that show that fish possess long-term memories, complex social structures and learning patterns as well as the ability to use tools and even build things.
The Farm Animal Welfare Council, which is tasked with providing independent, impartial and authoritative advice to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has stated that “society should provide animals with a life worth living, and an increasing proportion with a good life. … These provisions should extend to fish”. In light of this information, I’m sure that you will agree that confining fish to a tank and allowing a person to thrash around in the water and possibly harm or crush the fish does not safeguard their welfare or give them a “good life”.
May I please have your assurance that you will no longer use the fish in your performances? Taking them out of the production altogether is the only way to ensure their welfare and would in no way affect the success of the show itself.