World premiere of Emma Frankland’s “unapologetically queer” ‘Galatea’ comes to Brighton Festival

Graham Robson February 24, 2023

The work of Shakespeare’s best-selling but now long forgotten contemporary John Lyly, will be brought vividly to life in a field on the south coast this spring in a radical revival of his early modern play Galatea, adapted by Emma Frankland and Subira Joy. Co-directed and designed by Mydd Pharo of Cornish landscape theatre company Wildworks , edited by theatre historian Andy Kesson and presented by Marlborough Productions, this production fuses together groundbreaking research and experimental theatre.

Galatea was written in the 1580s and performed in front of Queen Elizabeth I. Now, this tale of love, joy and the importance of welcoming outsiders will be introduced to new audiences as a resonant story for modern times.

Set in a world where gods walk among the mortals, this unapologetically queer story follows different characters – all lost in the woods. Two young trans people find love whilst escaping oppression; a shipwrecked migrant searches for his family; goddesses clash; parents fret; an alchemist brews magic and a teenage Cupid sets hearts on fire – causing chaos and near disaster.

Galatea is an ambitious collaboration between queer theatre maker Emma Frankland, LGBTQ+ culture catalysts Marlborough Productions, Wildworks and the brand new research project Diverse Alarums, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

This new version of Galatea has been commissioned by Brighton Festival and will be presented outdoors at a large scale, with a vibrant, large cast of LGBTQ+ and deaf performers, in Shoreham-by-Sea. Members of the local community will be invited to join the performance through a process led by Wildworks, who bring 20 years experience of working in the landscape and creating work with community participants.

Speaking about Galatea, Emma Frankland said “I’ve been working towards this production for 7 years now and I’m really proud to share the results of such a long period of development. This production will be the result of so many brilliant artists, writers and thinkers who have been part of the journey.”

“It really feels like a collaboration with the original text – what Lyly wrote is beautiful, funny and exciting.. especially because of how exciting it is, as a trans person, to see yourself reflected in such a historic play, when usually we are supposed to not exist! I think that our adaptation builds on what Lyly wrote and makes it really relevant for today. Yes it’s a play about two trans people in love, but it’s about acceptance in general and about how a community thrives when it is open to change. When it is accepting of those who are different.”

Galatea from  5 – 21 May 2023 at Adur Recreation Ground, Brighton Rd, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5LT.

For tickets, CLICK HERE

Photography by Rosie Powell Freelance, featuring Antonia Kemi Coker and Femi Tiwo.