Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Arthur, King of the Britons

There's a theatre production of Arthur, King of the Britons on a Heaton Park, Manchester. Widely reported in the press, it sounds intriguing. This is from The Guardian:

Peter Clifford's script is a serviceable digest of the best-known episodes recounted by Malory, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chr├ętien de Troyes; though as medieval romances they invariably work better intoned by firelight than bellowed across a field. The complex schisms of pre-Arthurian England [sic] are neatly illustrated, however, by assigning spectators to different clans, thereby creating the interesting spectacle of an audience at war with itself.

Apart from the reviewer's England mistake, dividing the audience into clans sounds a good device to illustrate conflict. Hopefully, the production will do a tour at some point.


At 9:45 am BST, Blogger Diane said...

The film, King Arthur is on Sky this week. I may take a peek.

At 11:00 am BST, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Would love to know what you think, Diane :-)

At 1:17 am BST, Blogger wil said...

Can you explain the England mistake to a poor, befuddled American?

Is it that England (as a term) wasn't used at the time?

I've always had a bit of trouble with England vs. Britain vs. Great Britain, etc.

At 8:57 am BST, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

[gulp] to call 'pre-Arthurian England' is incorrect, as there was no 'England' in the 5th century. Call it 'Britain' and you're on safer turf. There is the beginning of 'Anglo-Saxon' kingdoms (aka a glint in a warlord's eye). Wouldn't like to get into an argument about when England came about, but until around the 9th century it was just a bunch of competing kingdoms, with the occasional really bossy king being acknowledged as top dog. When these kingdoms essentially disappear and the head blokes are called earls instead, then there's a case for 'England' Though arguably it equates with Wessex for a while. I'm sure there's a learned party line, but it eludes me.

For today, it is just 'Britain' to refer to all of the island (including Wales, Scotland *and* England). The island competes as 'Great Britain' in various athletic meetings, when people from all the island nations are in one team.

However, you are extremely unlikely to find any Welsh or Scottish person who calls themself a Briton. Somehow, 'British' equates with English, but it is incorrect. OK. I guess that's perfectly clear now ;-)

At 12:22 am BST, Blogger wil said...

Thanks for the lesson Prof. Bordessa. ;-)

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