In 2014, the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe is spearheading a revival of interest in John Lyly, a playwright who, in his day, was more popular than the Bard himself.  Patrick Spottiswoode, Director Globe Education: “John Lyly was born ten years before Shakespeare and for a time enjoyed a greater popularity.  His plays are some of the best kept secrets of the Early Modern period and have been incredibly popular with audiences at the Globe.  It is wonderful that his wickedly touching and gender-bendingGalatea will be staged in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to open Globe Education’s season and performed, as Lyly intended, by a company of boy actors”.

One of the first works to be staged in the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on Sunday 27 April will be a one-off performance of Lyly’s genre-defyingGalatea by Edward’s Boys, the well-established boys’ company from King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon, (K.E.S), Shakespeare’s own grammar school.  This month also sees the publication of John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship by Andy Kesson, senior lecturer at the University of Roehampton, London.  Kesson, together with other Lyly experts will be at Shakespeare’s Globe on 27 April for a day of public workshops and talks exploring the work and assessing the position in English dramatic art of this surprisingly radical playwright who was considered the most important writer of his time.

Edward’s Boys is the brainchild of Perry Mills, Deputy Head at K.E.S, who directs students from the school in rarely-seen plays originally written for the Early Modern boys’ companies.  It will be one of the first modern stagings ofGalatea in the UK and the first production from an all-boys company at Shakespeare’s Globe in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.  The new indoor venue has been designed with careful research into the materials, methods, and aesthetics of Jacobean buildings. The collaboration with Edward’s Boys presents the unique opportunity to experience a Lyly play performed by a boys’ company in its intended environment offering special insights into the children’s companies’ repertoire.

Galatea was first performed at the Royal Palace at Greenwich on 1 January 1588 for Queen Elizabeth I. It presents an apparently classical world but is set in an English wood in Lincolnshire. The themes in the play are all the more salient for being played by an adolescent company where confusion reigns.

Perry Mills, Deputy Head at K.E.S and directing Edward’s Boys’ performance of Galatea commented, “Hardly anyone reads Lyly today and virtually no one performs him.  All too often therefore we read about him, and then we’re assured he is over-formal – meaning austere, and a pre-cursor of Shakespeare – meaningnot worth the effort.  It’s been a revelation to start to actually rehearse him. The boys love the play.  They find it rich, challenging and continually surprising; and they delight in the playfulness of the language. There was a reason why they were called ‘boy players’.”

John Lyly (1554-1606) is considered a primary influence on the plays of Shakespeare, in particular the romantic comedies:Galatea is a major source for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was hailed as the author of ‘a new English’, one of the first to write plays in prose, performed in London and at Court.  Sixteenth century English churchman and author, Frances Meres, places him among “the best for comedy”.  Lyly is the only contemporary comic writer Ben Jonson names in the Shakespeare first folio and whom he celebrates as the literary standard to excel.Actors today comment on the clarity and humour in his work.

The performance ofGalatea by Edward’s Boys marks the very first event to be held in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe.  Tickets are available online atshakespearesglobe.com/lyly, or from the box office on0207 401 9919

A year-round programme of public events, courses and workshops from Globe Education enhances the enjoyment of works from Shakespeare and his contemporaries for all.  More information on current and upcoming events can be found online: shakespearesglobe.com/education

For further information, images and interviews please contact Phoebe Gardiner, Press & PR Officer Globe Education on 020 7902 1468 /phoebe.g@shakespearesglobe.com, or Jo Philpotts, Press & PR Consultant Globe Education on 07775 895680 / jo.philpotts@gmail.com

  • Globe Education Globe Education is one of the largest arts education departments in the UK. Each year, more than 100,000 people of all ages and nationalities participate in Globe Education’s programme of public events, workshops and courses. Globe Education also runs an extensive programme in the Southwark community and creates national and international outreach projects for students and teachers. For more information, visitwww.shakespearesglobe.com/education
  •  Edward’s Boyswww.edwardsboys.org The ensemble is the brainchild of Perry Mills, Deputy Head at King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon (K.E.S) a state-funded Academy Trust selective school for boys with a co-educational Sixth Form. The School, known to have been in existence from 1295 and re-founded by a Charter of King Edward VI, has a reputation for high academic standards and an outstanding co-curricular programme.  The poet and playwright William Shakespeare attended the School in the 1570s, leading to it being widely known as Shakespeare’s School.
    Since 2005 Perry Mills has been directing students from the school in rarely-seen plays originally written for the Early Modern boys’ companies.  Their work has generated considerable interest in the academic community for the unique insights it offers into this material and its performance conditions, and for the extremely high quality of the productions themselves.  Recent productions include Marlowe’sDido, Queen of Carthage, Dekker and Webster’s Westward Ho!, Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge and Lyly’s Mother Bombie. Edward’s Boys have performed not only in Stratford but at the universities of Warwick, Oxford and London, and at the RSC Swan Theatre and at the Globe’s Bear Gardens and Inigo Jones Theatres.  For most of his career Perry has been a Head of English and Drama, and is a very experienced leader of workshops for teachers and students on a variety of related topics. He taught for several years on the English and Drama PGCE programme at the Institute of Education at the University of Warwick. He edited The Taming of the Shrew for the Cambridge School Shakespeare series and wrote the Cambridge Shakespeare Student Guide onAs You Like It. He has written articles for the TES and other professional journals on many subjects relating to the teaching of English and Drama. He also delivers papers on a regular basis at academic conferences.
  • King Edward VI schoolwww.kes.net K.E.S. is an independent Academy Trust selective school in Stratford-Upon-Avon with high academic standards and an outstanding co-curricular programme for boys, and from September 2012 a co-ed Sixth Form. Established by the Guild of the Holy Cross, the School can trace its origins to May 1295, and it is widely believed that William Shakespeare attended the school between the ages of seven to fourteen. The current Headmaster is Mr. Bennet Carr (B.A. FRGS).
  • Globe Exhibition and Tour is open all year round. For more information visitwww.shakespearesglobe.com/exhibition
  • The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse:Shakespeare’s Globe is in the final stages of fundraising to complete the new indoor Jacobean theatre, opening in 2014 withThe Duchess of Malfi, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, L’Ormindoand The Malcontent. For more information, please visit shakespearesglobe.com/the-sam-wanamaker-playhouse
  • The Shakespeare Globe Trust is a registered charity No.266916. Shakespeare’s Globe receives no public subsidy.
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