Interview with Andy Corelli, artistic director of Siege Perilous, by theatre publicist Chris Hislop. Andy Corelli directed Lucy’s play King Arthur at Newtown Theatre and later at Craigcrook Castle, Edinburgh.
Chris Hislop: So, to begin, what attracted you to this script?
Andy Corelli: I started directing Shakespearean work, and then moved into new writing, and so have this interest in both. When King Arthur came along it was a like a wonderful marriage, it just worked. I was immediately captured by the poetry of the writing. I found the characters believable and the stories just so engaging. Anyone who knows the story of Arthur or who has seen the films, it’s usually Arthur in his younger years. This is focused more on the latter years. From that angle, it was new, it was refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable. I just thought, yes, I would like to have a stab at this.
CH: Well let’s talk about the actual stab then – your version of the script. What were your thoughts on style?
AC: I wanted to have a contemporary tone, but still stay true to the historical storyline. The themes in the play were relevant, I felt, to what is happening in the modern world now, with the West trying to impose their views on the rest of the world. We had a modern style with hints to the past, flashes of silver armour with the suits, for example. I also wanted to give the idea of democracy in the play, so had characters on stage all the time looking in at what Arthur was up to – surrounding him. That gave the effect of a chessboard, a power struggle.
CH: Tell me a bit about who you’ve worked with so far.
AC: Well, we’ve had some great actors – one of our productions included Jim Byars, who was in the John Byrne’s original Slab Boys production, so a number of the younger actors in the cast were fascinated to share the stage with him. There have been a wide range of people who’ve done film, tv, comedy and stand up work. Everyone’s worked well together as a strong unit. It’s a good ensemble piece.
CH: Given the chance to pursue the show further, is there anything you’d change, or do differently?
AC: Looking to the future, I think it’s a wonderful piece to be adventurous with in lighting and sound. I like the idea of the actors on stage creating sound, representing the public voting with their feet – having that acoustic there. Also, it would be great to include elements involving the audience so they experience a real event, experiencing the show as members of the Court. I’d maximise the dramatic tension within the piece – thinking of Arthur’s character, putting across his journey in a more pointed way throughout, and the controversy that was had in the courtroom. There would be a dramatic peak, followed by the tragedy of the ending of his reign.