New Arthurian drama comes to the stage in Paignton, Dartmouth & Dartington

(Last Updated On: July 26, 2016)

I am what you made me become!”

Mordred is a locally made Devon & Cornwall project,showcasing the skills of local actors and film makers, with a local group from Brixham, in Torbay, which has done historical drama for some years. It is an Arthurian story, centering on King Arthur’s son Mordred, set in the early 6th Century, working with a lot of early legends and regional history. The tale is heavily influenced by the earliest legends of Mordred, who is traditionally seen as King Arthur’s arch-nemesis, and illegitimate son. In the earlier legends, Mordred is much more of an ambiguous character, and this ambitious drama tells of the legends, from Mordred’s point of view and is heavily influenced by Celtic legends and Druidic traditions, and the earliest tales of Arthur, and his followers.

Having almost completed shooting a feature film of the same drama in Devon and Cornwall, many of the cast have continued to the stage show, along with some fantastic new actors, for the theatre production – the stage show cast welcomes Plymouth-based Ashley Phillips as the stage production’s King Arthur, from the Dark Ages re-enactment group Drengskapt Hird, alongside Rich Sandford, from Torquay, reprising his title role, as Mordred, from the film, Hayley Rushton returning as Morgan Le Fay. It would be impossible to list all the wonderful cast, you will need to some and see for yourself.

The timeline for this production came originally from the entry for the year 537AD in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle.

537 The battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell: and there was plague in Britain and Ireland. (“Medraut” was the name that in later legend, became Mordred. We went with the later name “Mordred” simply so that it would be more recognisable to modern audiences.)

The Southwest is linked to a wide number of legends connected with King Arthur, and as we researched, we found yet more old stories, both of Mordred, and and of other, Mordred-like characters who almost never appear in modern adaptations of the legend. Piecing these together, against this dramatic, ever-changing landscape of the Dark Ages, and using peripheral history of the times we created our own version of the legend, with a lot of the backdrop which would have existed in the time it is set.

Following the departure of the Romans from Britain, the Southwest again became the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia. At this point in history, the Saxons were raiding along the coast, much as the Vikings did, centuries later. Set against this backdrop, Arthur and his warriors, fight to defend Dumnonia, against invasion.

The group running it, The South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company, from Brixham in South Devon, also founded by Laura Jay, has a proven track record over 10 years of producing historical theatre and film, working from the early days of raising £80 from a carboot sale and using the backroom of a pub for rehearsals.

The film version of the project is already gathering international interest, with three articles in New York – based arts magazine NY Elite, and Hollywood-based film production magazine Max-It, as well as various online interviews and podcasts.

The South Devon Players have an unusual raison d’etre; exemplified, in this project. The group, which started out as an amateur dramatics theatre group, specialising in historical and mythological drama, are a group of local career-orientated actors and creatives, who are unable, for various life reasons, or lack of resources, to move away to large entertainment hubs such as London, to make careers there.

It was considered very important to make sure that we were not making “just another King Arthur project”, and to find a unique adaptation. While novels have been written from Mordred’s point of view, to our knowledge, this has never been transferred to drama. That, coupled with spanning Devon and Cornwall, and delving into earlier and less known legends, has created an all new version of the legend.

The show dates for the performances are:

PAIGNTON:  PALACE THEATRE Saturday Sept 3rd 2016:
Booking link

TOTNES: STUDIO 31, DARTINGTON HALL Friday Sept 16th 2016


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