Press release

Edgy Gallathea Rocks the World of Classical Theatre at UC Davis

UC Davis Department of Theatre & Dance presents Gallathea, written by John Lyly and directed by Peter Lichtenfels. This gender-bending Elizabethan comedy explores what it is like to portray a woman’s society in vaudeville style. The contemporary set and spirit include live video, original music, outrageous costumes and text messaging. Gallathea opens on Thursday, Nov. 11, and continues through Saturday, Nov. 20, at Main Theatre, Wright Hall, UC Davis.

The hunt is everything in Gallathea where girls dressed as men fall wildly in love and the gods furiously battle like schoolyard children. The play is centered on a village in Lincolnshire, which is forced by Neptune to sacrifice its most beautiful virgin every five years. Hilarity ensues when two fathers, Tyterus and Melebus — both believing their daughters to be the fairest virgin — send the girls into the forest for protection disguised as men. The play’s twists and turns follow in ever-increasing complexity.

Fortune-seeking brothers and the divine intervention of Diana, Venus and Cupid complicate the play, but the plot focuses on the two daughters, Gallathea and Phillida, and the suppleness of gender. UC Davis professor and professional theatre director Peter Lichtenfels comments, “Early modern ideas about men, women and the flexibility of gender are both remarkably similar and completely different to ours today. The similarities help us to think about gender and sexuality through the differences of a society and culture from over four hundred years ago – with thought-provoking and challenging perspectives on what many people today take for granted.”

Lichtenfels notes that the play feels like “vaudeville and [almost] stand-up comedy.” He thinks audiences will enjoy the bawdy and surprisingly contemporary humor of Gallathea. With its playful gender-bending, fans of Shakespeare’s As You Like It are sure to enjoy Lyly’s play and Lichtenfels’ fun and uproarious update of this classic. It rocks the world of traditional theatre while exploring sex, identity, lust, love, infidelity, deception and denial with burlesque flair. It is sophisticated and coarse at the same time.

Costume designer and Ph.D. candidate Liz Galindo remarks, “Gallathea is a historical play and creating costumes with a contemporary twist has been a challenge… each of these characters wear a different hat in this particular society, so I had fun researching 21st century haute couture hats and then started creating fun, sexy and over the top hats for each character.”  Three brothers wear ship hats that bring Monty Python to mind as the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria adorn their heads.

The show’s multi-media artist and second-year M.F.A. candidate John Zibell remarks, “The video heightens the bold cast and designer comedic choices… I hope this works like a massive, emotional strip tease or fan dance that we’re doing for the audience. It is intended to tantalize on many levels.”

In addition to embracing new media on the stage Gallathea has ventured onto the web. Lichtenfels had the entire cast and crew form a Facebook group as well as individual Facebook pages for each of the characters. It is a novel approach that adds to the contemporary portrayal of the play. Interpreting the relationship between cross-dressing characters such as Gallathea and Phillida resulted in the use of typical Facebook parlance, “Gallathea is in a relationship and it’s complicated” the profile reads.  Furthermore audiences are encouraged to bring cameras and even cell phones to the program as part of the experience. The performance may even spur a YouTube video or two. Director Lichtenfels is excited by this opportunity — to explore how in our modern society identity and sexuality are so intertwined with technology.

Sound designer Dylan Bolles, a Ph.D. candidate, says, “Peter has assembled a great group of artistic directors and cast members and is involving them in a highly collaborative process. The result is a wonderful diversity of voices with a pleasant unpredictability to the whole proceeding.”

Lichtenfels is further aided by UC Davis designers: graduate students Gian Scarabino (scenic), Kelly Jean Conard (lighting), award-winning choreographer Keith Hennessy (movement) and undergraduate Daniel Jordan (properties). The cast includes four M.F.A. candidates:  Afi Ayanna (Telusa), Matthew Canty (Raffe), Will Klundt (Melebus, Mariner) andAvila Reese (Venus); also undergraduates Gia Battista (Gallathea), Vanessa Archuleta (Phillida), and Ting Jung Lee (Cupid/Haebe). Undergraduates Mark Curtis Ferrando and Stephanie Hankinson serve as stage manager and assistant director, respectively. 


Peter Lichtenfels (Director) is UC Davis Department of Theatre & Dance professor and professional theatre director. He writes on Shakespeare and contemporary performance and has championed cross-cultural theatre throughout his career. He was the Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre and London’s Leicester Haymarket Theatre where he introduced radical international and alternative theatre to the United Kingdom. Collaborating with the Chinese in 2008, he set A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a flashy bar with colorful millennium age costumes and Mandarin language at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center. It won “Best Production” by the Shanghai International Arts Festival. Committed to interdisciplinary work among theatre, dance and performance art, he has worked with world-renowned actors including Anthony Hopkins, Tilda Swinton and Robbie Coltrane.

Lichtenfel’s previous UC Davis productions include The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and Tectonic Theatre Company, The Island by Winston Ntshona, John Kani and Athol Fugard, and Cymbeline by William Shakespeare.

Dylan Bolles (Sound Designer) makes performances with people and environments, many of which involve the design and construction of new musical instruments and the cultivation of co-creative relationships based in listening practice. His activities include a wide range of performance-based collaboration, time-based arts, installations, and sound compositions. Dylan is a co-founder and artistic director of thingamajigs an Oakland-based music festival and educational non-profit organization, and a doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at UC Davis.

Kelly Jean Conard (Lighting Designer) is a second year Lighting Design M.F.A. candidate at UC Davis. Kelly received her B.A. in Theatre at UC Santa Cruz. She has worked as an administration intern and electrician at Shakespeare Santa Cruz for two seasons and recently interned with the Los Angeles based design firm Thinkwell Group. Her most recent theatrical design work includes “Faggot Arabesque,” a new film work devised and adapted by Danny Scheie, a six person Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by M.F.A. candidate  John Zibell, and Who Are You? by M.F.A. contact improvisation choreographer Karl Frost. Kelly’s UC Davis thesis will be designing the lighting for The Who’s Tommy under the direction of Granada Artist-in-Residence Mindy Cooper.

Liz Galindo(Costume Designer) is a couture and costume designer. Her designs have been featured in films such as “Charlie’s Angles,” “Town and Country” and “Sex in the City.” Her couture gowns have sauntered down the red carpets at the Emmy’s, Grammy’s, Golden Globes and Oscars award shows, as well as at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals. Ms. Galindo creates her own fabric designs as well as paints on silk. She is currently working on her doctorate in the area of costume design in film from UC Davis. Ms. Galindo studied and learned fabric design in Florence, Italy at the Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli screen printing studios as well at the Fortuny fabric studios outside of Venice, Italy. She was invited to study at the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan, examining fabrics and silhouettes of contemporary Japanese designers and 21st century fabric making. Her designs have graced the covers of British Vogue, Movieline Magazine, LA Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine, Bel Air Magazine, and the New York Times Sunday Section Magazine to name a few.

Keith Hennessy(Movement Designer)isDirector of Zero Performance. He lives in San Francisco and tours internationally. Hennessy received his M.F.A. in Choreography at UC Davis in 2007 and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies. His interdisciplinary research engages improvisation, ritual and public action as tools for investigating political realities. Recent awards include a N.Y. Bessie (2010), two Isadora Duncan Awards (2009), and the S.F. Bay Guardian’s Goldie (2007). Hennessy’s 2010 calendar includes The University for Dance & Circus (Stockholm), Impulstanz (Vienna), American Dance Festival (Durham NC), Bluecoat Performance Space (Liverpool), Sophiensaele (Berlin) and Chorescence (Grenoble). 

Gian Scarabino (Scenic Designer) is a second year M.F.A. student in Scenic Design at UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance. Last season he served as scenic designer on Some Things Are Private at MainTheatre.  

John Zibell(Multi-Media Artist) is pursuing his M.F.A. in Directing at UC Davis. He is an actor/writer/director working in New York and regional theatre and independent film. John studied acting with Mike Nichols, Paul Sills and George Morrison at the New Actors Workshop in Manhattan. He appeared in the film “The War Within”  and wrote, directed and acted in the film “Sex and Violence,” which earned him the Audience Award and Best Directorial Debut at the NY International Independent Film Festival. John has worked with the legendary Paul Sills, Diane Paulus and maverick director Shira Piven. He has also been a member of a number of grass-roots theatre companies performing original work including Sills and Company and Blue Circle Theater (also with Ms. Paulus and Mr. Sills). John originated the role of Jimmy Patraglia in Joe Roland’s off-Broadway play On The Line, produced by Mr. Nichols.

What: Gallathea, contemporary vaudeville style performance of classic Elizabethan comedy featuring original video projection and music.

Where: Main Theatre, Wright Hall, UC Davis

When: Thursday – Saturday, Nov. 11 – 13, 8pm; Thursday – Friday, Nov. 18 – 19, 8pm

Sunday, Nov 14, 2pm

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2pm

Tickets: General: $17/19Students/Children/Seniors: $12/14

Special Youth Group Tickets: School and youth groups of 10 or more receive a special rate of $5 per ticket at the teacher or group leader’s request. Call the UC Davis Department of Theatre & Dance at (530) 752 -5863 to make arrangements for this discount.

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Performance Studies

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UC Davis Arts