Arthur: Boy-King of Britain is a children’s play for schools and youth theatre groups (with an all-male cast, so making it suitable for boys’ schools) that tells the story of the boy Arthur, the magician Merlin, and the sword in the stone.
Drawn from Arthurian legend, the play recounts how Arthur, the son of the Celtic knight Sir Ector, outwits his older brother Kay to draw a magnificent sword from a stone in front of a group of English knights. Arthur’s guide is the magician Merlin, whom he meets right at the start of the play, during a stormy night in a forest near his home; Merlin is disguised as an anonymous old man when Arthur meets him on that occasion, and at the end of the play it is revealed that Merlin has appeared in a variety of guises throughout the story – as a knight, a monk, a miller Arthur encounters by the roadside, and Arthur’s dog Jasper.
This “shape-shifting” facility of Merlin was first described by the French poet Robert de Boron in the early thirteenth century; the rest of the play and characters are taken from Arthurian legends as told by the medieval chroniclers Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 1130s and Thomas Malory in the 1480s.
The play is written to allow for straightforward staging by a large and flexible cast: there can be up to 32 performers, each with a speaking role, though this can be reduced with doubling. There are no female roles. Leading through-roles such as Arthur, Merlin, Kay and Sir Ector are complemented by a number of group roles, including a marauding band of Saxon warriors and their victims from a Celtic village. The play runs around 75 minutes in performance.
With its all-male cast Arthur has, not surprisingly, been performed by a number of boys’ schools, with the first production staged at Guildford Grammar School in Perth, Australia, in 2014. Subsequent productions have been staged at boys’ schools in both Australia and England, generally by casts aged 10-14.
The play is published by Lazybee Scripts. You can read the full script – and order printed copies and arrange performance rights – here.
And you can read a sample scene by following this link: Script
Click here for a review of the play in the Autumn 2017 edition of Teaching Drama magazine.