We recently had the chance to talk to Matthew Falduto, the writer and director of the Young Footliters fall show, Guinevere and Arthur. The shows run Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Go here for tickets.
So tell us about Guinevere and Arthur.
It’s a new take on the Arthurian legend. Guinevere and Arthur are teenagers. The play opens with the death of Guinevere’s father, which makes her Queen. Arthur is a squire learning to be a knight and quickly becoming disillusioned. Together they pull Excalibur from the stone, and then Merlin sends them on a quest to take the sword home.
They pull the sword from the stone together?
Yeah, that was the image that started the play for me, the two of them holding the sword aloft.
So is your Guinevere kind of a bad a** with a sword?
Hey, this is a Footliters play – I don’t think we should be using that word… But anyway, she wants to learn swordplay, but honestly her strength comes from who she is as a person and discovering that strength within her is the journey she faces in this play. So she’s definitely a bad a**. But she doesn’t need a sword to prove it.
So Guinevere and Arthur go on their quest… they must encounter challenges along the way? I saw a video with a dragon costume…
Yes, there’s a dragon. I love dragons. I couldn’t have written a play about knights and princesses and not put a dragon in. But there are other challenges they encounter. One of them is named Morgan Le Fay.
She’s the evil sorceress from the legend, right?
Well, in this version, she’s not evil exactly. She’s Arthur’s sister, just a year younger than he is. She loves magic and desperately want Merlin’s approval. His rejection of her drives much of her actions in the play. Truth is, I love Morgan. She’s wants so much to be respected for her talents and everyone tells her she can’t do what she was born to do – wield magic. She doesn’t always make the best choices and I think her story is one that many, many people can relate to.
Talk to us about the tech challenges.
Well it’s a pretty ambitious show in terms of tech. There is a mountain, eight 10 foot tall trees that have to move around the stage, and lots of challenging lighting effects to create the spells Morgan casts. And then there’s the costumes – we have wolves and tree sprites! Fortunately, I am working with an excellent set designer, Rebecca Russell. And Eric Burchett is doing the lighting and Jackie Allen is doing the costumes. It’s all coming together.
And then there’s the dragon costume!
Yes, Jason Estes and Jackie created that costume together. It’s magnificent.
This is your third Footliters show, right?
Fourth actually. I directed The Hobbit back in 2000, but took a long break before returning to Footliters two years ago with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Last year, I directed Ozma of Oz, which I adapted from two of the Oz books. And now Guinevere and Arthur, which is completely original script.
What is it about Footliters that keeps drawing you in?
Well, I love working with younger actors. They’re willing to try anything – so brave. And I love to watch them discover how cool theatre can be. It’s lots of fun to be a part of that moment. And the Footliters organization and the CCPA staff are so supportive. I can’t say enough good things about Evan Hilsabeck. He’s great to work with, thoughtful and understanding and helpful. And he’s great with the kids too! He came to a rehearsal and worked on projection with them.
Thanks for giving us some insight to the show!
Guinevere and Arthur runs September 9th and 10th at 7 pm and the 11th at 2 pm at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. More information here.