King Arthur’s Round Table…an introduction to the Mummers’ play.

Caerleon in South Wales, boasts a fully excavated Roman amphitheatre, known for many centuries as King Arthur’s Round Table because of its circular shape, in fact its oval. Caerleon was reputed to be Arthur’s Camelot as it would seem sensible for the warrior king to re-occupy an abandoned Roman stronghold.

Other amphitheatres I have visited are at Chester and Cirencester, both impressive to see. There are also amphitheatre sites at Caerwent, London, Richborough and St. Albans.

Although the tradition of the Mari Lwyd was revived in Caerleon during the 1960’s, there is no traditional play, although Mummers plays exist for neighbouring Monmouth and Chepstow.

So the play takes a brief look at the passing fortunes of the amphitheatre, from Roman times, its legendary curse and its associations with Arthur until its re-birth as an arena of spectacle. Julius and Aaron were Roman soldiers martyred at the time because they were Christians. In 1926/7, Dr. (later to become Sir) Mortimer Wheeler was in charge of the project to excavate the amphitheatre.

The strange collection of characters, defying both time and order, act out scenes which at first appear chaotic, but in truth transcends the passing of time. Acts of dying and re-birth symbolize the mystical intervention of the Spirits of Nature. In what other drama would Romeo and Juliet meet Merlin and just what has Cinderella to do with it?

Be prepared to meet: The Greene Man, Sir M.,Olde Mother Nature, two Roman soldiers Julius and Aaron, Lady Nemesis, Merlin, King Arthur Guinevere and of course Romeo and Juliet. So you say just what has Cinderella to do with it? Wait and see…it’s in the poetry.

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