Sunday, March 04, 2007


(this from Steve Purcell on The Shakespeare Conference ...)

On 22nd to 25th March the Shakespeare Institute Players present their production of John Lyly's 'Sappho and Phao' at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon.

The event will be held in conjunction with a symposium on Lyly at the Institute on the afternoon of Saturday 24th March.

John Lyly was the most influential writer working in the London theatre during the 1580s. His first two works, both prose narratives, were the best-selling literary works of the English Renaissance, and his subsequent eight plays, written to be performed before Elizabeth Tudor, provide a remarkably different aesthetic to the dramaturgy later established by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Kyd and co. (the dramaturgy now thought of as "Renaissance" or "Shakespearean").

'Sappho and Phao' was Lyly's second play, and his first attempt to represent Elizabeth to herself with an onstage female monarch. Sappho is the chaste queen of Syracusa, and Venus and Cupid, in divine irritation at her imperviousness to love, make her fall for the local, and extremely dishy, ferry boy Phao. The play weighs up the various class, sexual, and political intrigues resulting from this situation. This will be the first staging of the play for over 400 years.

The performance will last roughly one hour and a half, will be lit by the RSC, and include a new scoring of Lyly's song lyrics written by Kirsty McGee and performed live by Kirsty and Mat Martin ( Performances are 7.30pm 22nd-24th March, with a Sunday matinee at 2pm on 25th. Tickets are £7, £5 concession, and can be reserved at .

The symposium will be held on Saturday 24th March, from 1pm. Guest speakers include Carter Daniel, editor of 'The Plays of John Lyly', and Leah Scragg, author of a number of studies on Lyly including 'The Metamorphosis of Gallathea' and editor of 'Sapho and Phao' and 'Gallathea' for the Malone Society, 'Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit' and 'Euphues and His England' for the Revels Plays Companion Library, and, last year, 'The Woman in the Moon' for the Revels Plays. This symposium will also serve as a pre- and post-show discussion. Enquiries should go to Andy Kesson (


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