Two performers stand outside in the woods together closely, surrounded by pink and blue smoke, holding flaming torches
Image by Holly Revell

Gather Round: Galatea

Theatre, Outdoor

Inspired by this year’s Brighton Festival theme, we take a closer look at some of the extraordinary and eclectic events in our programme.

A new world premiere and Brighton Festival Commission is Galatea - a tale of young trans love, shipwrecked migrants, clashing goddesses and fretting parents. Galatea is a major collaboration between award-winning Sussex-based director Emma Frankland; Brighton-based LGBTQ+ theatre production organisation Marlborough Productions; acclaimed Cornish outdoor theatre company Wildworks; and leading theatre scholar Andy Kesson. Galatea was written by John Lyly in 1584 and has been adapted by Frankland and Subira Joy. It will be performed outdoors in Shoreham-by-Sea by a large company, which includes the local community, both in spoken English and British Sign Language from 5-21 May

We chatted with director and adaptor Emma Frankland, to discover more about this ambitious outdoor production.


‘I’m so excited to be bringing an innovative production of this scale to Shoreham-by-Sea.. I am excited for the whole community to be involved and inspired!’


Image by Rosie Powell


What inspired you to adapt and stage Galatea?

Galatea is a 440-year-old play that has never been professionally revived. About seven years ago myself and some others started talking about what a production would look like that drew on my classical theatre background but incorporated my contemporary live art practice.


How would you describe Galatea in three words?

Transformative, spectacular, groundbreaking.


What do you hope people will take away from Galatea after they have seen or experienced it?

I think that knowing this play exists, means that we have to reconsider our understanding of British history. It proves that queerness, intersectionality and tolerance has always been part of British culture - not modern concepts - and I think that undoes a lot of harmful assumptions.


Are you looking forward to being a part of Brighton Festival 2023?

Brighton Festival is a highly respected festival and I’m so excited to be bringing an innovative production of this scale and quality to my hometown of Shoreham by Sea. It’s amazing to work so close to home and I am excited for the whole community to be involved and inspired!


Image by Rosie Powell


What else can you tell us about Galatea?

Our production will be performed in two languages! Spoken English and British Sign Language. This has been incredible to develop, especially as we are working with a historic text - but it means that every performance will be fully accessible for Deaf and hearing audience members.

We are really committed to access being at the heart of this production, for our company and for the audience, and we hope that many people who might usually find an outdoor classical show to contain barriers to access will feel seen and looked after!


Bring your blankets and fold up chairs to the Adur Recreation Ground and enjoy the atmosphere of a county fair: Galatea, 5-21 May, Adur Recreation Ground


Learn more about Galatea:

The Guardian: ‘Explicitly queer and trans’: the 1580s play that inspired Shakespeare’s cross-dressing love plots

BBC Radio 3: Galatea and Shakespeare