By John Laly
Directed by Jaki Demarest
The Rude Mechanicals are celebrating their 22nd anniversary with an online production of John Lyly’s “Gallathea” on Saturday, July 24th at 8 PM. The influence this play had on Shakespeare was profound, giving the Bard ideas, plot points, linguistic style, even a few lines plagiarized here and there. Shakespeare clearly loved this play. We hope you will, too.
The story goes like this:
Every five years, in the village of Lincolnshire, the god Neptune demands the sacrifice of the village’s most beautiful virgin. Gallathea and Phillida are candidates in the lottery no one wants to win, and they do not volunteer as tribute. So their fathers disguise them as boys, send them off to the woods to hide, the cross-dressed virgins meet, and unexpectedly, they fall in love. And several woodland nymphs fall in love with one or both of them. And a few gods fall in love with each other. A dodecahedron of love is all around, irrespective of gender or species.
One of the most subversive and marvelous comedies to have emerged in the last 2400 years or so, “Gallathea” features a same-sex, gender-fluid relationship that multiple gods and a whole village get behind and support, and it ends happily, with a marriage. Lyly’s treatment of the women is sympathetic and fiercely modern in interesting ways; Gallathea and Phillida fall genuinely in ‘unspotted’ love, a love that does not alter when it alteration finds. Each of them sees and knows that she is in love with another woman, and neither one pulls back. The goddess Venus comes up with a heteronormative plan to make one of them a man, but never decides which, and at the end of the play, two women are joyfully led off by their families, friends, neighbors and deities to be married.
We like to think it’s happily ever after.
- Tyterus, a shepherd: William Brodie
- Gallathea, his daughter, disguised as Tyterus II: Claudia Bach
- Melebeus, a shepherd: Seain Gutridge
- Phillida, his daughter, disguised as Melebeus II: Erin Nealer
- Venus, goddess of love: Melissa Schick
- Cupid, god of affection and desire and son of Venus: Lou Zammichieli
- Neptune, god of the sea: Wes Dennis
- Diana, goddess of virginity and of the hunt: Katie Wanschura
- Eurota, a nymph of Diana: Allison McAllister
- Ramia, a nymph of Diana: Sarah Pfanz
- Telusa, a nymph of Diana: Lisa Hill-Corley
- An Augur: Liana Olear
- Ericthinis, another countryman of the shepherds: Samuel Kopel
- Hebe, his virgin daughter: Joshua Engel
- Rafe, son of a Miller, brother of Robin and Dick: Alan Duda
- Robin, son of a Miller, brother of Rafe and Dick: Ed Myers
- Dick, son of a Miller, brother of Rafe and Robin: Joshua Engel
- A Mariner, their first master: Lisa Hill-Corley
- An Alchemist, their second master: William Brodie
- An Astronomer, their third master: Mikki Barry