Galatea 101: Performing John Lyly in the 21st Century

Galatea (c.1584) enjoyed some more research and development with actors in August 2021, as it heads towards a production in collaboration with Wildworks, when director Emma Frankland gathered theatremakers at the 101 Outdoor Creation Space (thanks to their seed funding). This post brings together a series of A Bit Lit videos with performers to discuss why this production is important, what it aims to do, and what work is involved in making classical theatre inclusive, accessible, and timely. It forms part of a range of content (to be found here) following Frankland and Andy Kesson’s work on Galatea over the past five years.

In this video, Emma and Andy tell us about staging John Lyly’s 1584 play today; give some background to the forthcoming production; explain what we’re doing over the next fortnight at the site of Greenham Common and why; and set out the urgency and necessity of this work:

Next, Nadia Nadarajah and Brian Duffy tell us about their experiences working on the play Galatea, including translations into British Sign Language, exploring the character of the goddess Diana, and using physical communication and visual vernacular. The work forms part of Emma Frankland’s production and comes out of a residency at 101 Outdoor Creation Space in 2021:

Bea Webster talks about the process of turning sixteenth-century English into British Sign Language and the creation of appropriate signs, the importance of a diverse rehearsal room, and what it’s like playing a character about to be sacrificed… Part of the Galatea residency at 101 Outdoor Creation Space:

Aneesa Chaudhry and Mary Woodvine tell us about the music, dance and movement for this production, exploring ways for our deaf performers and British Sign Language to take the lead in its choreography:

You can hear more about the music connected to Galatea in our interview with musical director Vicky Abbott. This track is one of the refrains that played through the residency at Newbury:

Myriddin Pharo, artistic director of WildWorks and our company designer, tells us about his work on John Lyly’s Galatea:

The actors Ralph Bogard and Sophie Stone tell us about working through British Sign Language to explore the characters of Cupid, Rafe and the nymphs in Galatea:

Michelle Tiwo and Mary Malone tell us about performing the two queer, trans lovers at the heart of John Lyly’s Galatea, and working with this company that aims to centre performers and lives so often excluded from theatre:

Emma Frankland and Subira Wahogo look back on our two-week residency:

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