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The great problem, indeed, with adapting Arthur to the stage in any form is the sheer wealth of literature on the subject. It is possible to get very bogged-down and bemused, not only by the ramifications of the various stories but by the way the myth continually creates and recreates itself, almost like a living thing, and is re-presented in each age within the world-view of that age -- and each view seems to be equally potent. It often surprises me that King Alfred, a noble and heroic king, with an exciting and adventurous history, is known largely these days for failing to take care of the cooking, while hiding in exile in a peasant hut. But perhaps one of Arthur's advantages is that we know so little about about him that the imagination can be given full rein, and so during a thousand years of winter's tales on dark nights round the fireside, such facts as are remembered, and probably only half-understood, can be mingled with ancient mythology and folk tales to form a vast and potent legend.

Leticia Müller as Morgan Le Fay and Robert Parker as Arthur in the 2000 BRB production of 'Arthur Pendragon'. Photo: Bill Cooper/BRB

The problem, then, for anyone trying to form a stage scenario is what to use and what to discard. As already mentioned, both John and David early became very interested by Morgan le Fay, and as one of David's greatest strengths as a story-ballet creator is, I believe, his insight into the interplay of different characters, and the way that emotions and personalities can shape people's lives, somehow this millennial Arthur became very much the story of couples and triangles, rather than of history, politics and epic events, with Arthur and Morgan as the main protagonists. Along the way we have the love-triangles of Ygraine, Gorlois and Uther Pendragon; Guinevere, Lancelot and Arthur; and the familial love/hate triangle of Morgan, Arthur and their incestuous love-child, Mordred.

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Copyright © 17 April 2001 Monica McCabe, Kent, UK







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