“I am what you made me become!” snarls Mordred, as he confronts his father, King Arthur.
How relevant that seems!
After already months of planning, research, scripting, and advertising, this production, created by local people, and being made soley in the Southwest, was cast at the beginning of March.
The audition day, which was widely advertised, was as well subscribed as we had hoped – in fact, due to demand, we had to run other sessions through the day, as well as the one advertised in the evening, in order to make sure everyone was seen.
There was a huge amount of incredible talent, to the point that discussions then ran until almost midnight, among the casting panel, but, after a non-stop 11-or so hours, we had a cast list. The next task was to contact all selected actors, and offer them roles. By Wednesday, that process was done, and the final cast in place.
And what an amazing cast. It ranges from Julie Tetley playing Gitta; Morgan le Fay’s maid and co-conspirator, and thirteen year old newcomer Reece Whitehouse playing King Arthur’s “legitimate” son, Duran, in their first ever major acting roles (in fact the first ever role for Reece), through our more experienced actors Rich Sandford who stars as Mordred, and Guillaume Rivaud, who plays King Arthur, right over to “Iron” Mike Mitchell, who, after holding 5 “Mr World” and 2 “Mr Universe” titles with the World Fitness Federation, went on to the world of acting and has appeared in films such as Gladiator, Braveheart, Skyfall, Apocalypse Z – and the TV soap Emmerdale.
This amazing cast, have already begun working together in a highly energised, collaborative team, where regardless of experience, or age, everyone has come together to put a thousand percent into rehearsals and workshops for the production.
Rehearsals now happen twice a week, each time running over different scenes, alongside training sessions for historical combat, acting and all other skills needed by the cast to portray their characters.
“Mordred”, is set in the 6th century, a time of strife, after the Romans had withdrawn from Britain, and the native peoples are defending their shores against Saxon incursions. Careful research into what is known of the period, has been undertaken, and linked with some of the earliest legends about King Arthur, and Mordred, as well, to create this production.
King Arthur has ruled Dumnonia, the South-west peninsula of Britain, after being chosen as the Pendragon, after his defeat of the Saxon sea-wolves, at the Battle of Badon Hill, at the age of sixteen. His elder sister, once the Arch-druidess of Dumnonia, Morgan, consumed with jealousy, plots against the Throne, and is banished from Dumnonia after the deaths of Arthur’s first wife Anna, and his baby son.
Many years later, a young nobleman is found, poisoned, on the moors. Brought to the fort town Isca, by Arthurs warriors, he is revealed to be Mordred, illegitimate son of King Arthur and also the victim of plots by Morgan. Father and son slowly come to trust one another, and eventually, Mordred, who is well liked by most of Arthur’s followers, is chosen as Regent of Dumnonia, as Arthur battles a second Saxon invasion.
Unfortunately, not all of Arthur’s enemies are on the battlefield.
The drama tells how two equally honourable men came to hate one another, and how that hate to lead to a disastrous war.
Set against the backdrop of the post-Roman Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia, present day Devon and Cornwall, struggling to survive against the Saxon invaders, this is a dark, gritty drama, supported with an impressive team of performers, historical reenactors, historians, and a film crew ranging from students at Exeter College, through writing, research and direction, by Arthurian-afficiando, actress/director and Masters graduate from the University of Exeter; Laura Jury, and the ambitious Simon Knight, Director of Photography. The team is supported by the sound track composer, Michael Klubertanz, from Germany, the only team member from outside the Southwest of England, who is composing the film sound-track using only instruments which would have been in use in 6th Century Britain
The final aim of the production is to gain international exposure – and hopefully employment – for local actors and creative talent. As our team’s history is also in doing theatre, a touring theatre production will take place in locations around Devon and Cornwall, in September 2016. The project 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. For many years the Players have specialised in theatre, performing locally at the Palace Theatre in Paignton, and the Edge in Brixham, but now want to bring their work to the film circuit to publicise the fantastic skills of local southwest actors and “behind the scenes” creatives across the world. The belief of the Players is that in order to find opportunities, they must first create their own.
Filming will take place in May and June 2016 around Devon and Cornwall, with the theatre performances taking place in September 2016 .
It was considered very important to make sure that we were not making “just another King Arthur film”, 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 film. That, coupled with spanning Devon and Cornwall, and delving into earlier and less known legends, has created an all new version of the legend.
Not that creating a production of this scale is easy. While grants are being applied for, and
traditional crowdfunding sources are being applied to, you cannot put all your eggs in one basket. Cast and crew members are involved in a wide range of fundraising activities, ranging from small amounts from tombolas and face painting at fetes, and selling on ebay, through to a film/ scifi/ fantasy convention, grant applications, cabaret shows, ebook publications and more.
For costumes and props, It is also a case of keeping one eye on the history book and the other on what reclaimed fabrics and items can be remade, and adapted. We have to thank so many people who keep an eye out for second hand things that we can do this with.
This is an ambitious project, taking not just every ounce of creativity on screen, but also in the planning and logistics behind-the-scenes. / Laura Jury, South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company
About the South Devon Players
The South Devon Players is a team of dedicated, career-orientated performers, of all ages, who are working on creating careers in theatre and film. We always welcome new members, who share our ethos, and who, regardless of previous experience, want to join a lively, friendly, hardworking team of performers, hone old skills & develop new ones, and create high quality new stage and film productions.
We perform theatre shows in Brixham, around Torbay, and South Devon, based on historical events, classical stories and mythology. We also make period drama films and web-series productions, around Devon and Cornwall, which has become a large percentage of our annual projects.
The South Devon Players was founded in late 2005 by two Brixham-based performers who were seeking performance opportunities in the Southwest, and performed our first production in the summer of 2006. Since then we have gone from strength to strength, and are now growing rapidly, with awards won and a rapidly increasing member and audience base.