By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — “I don't want to be a king,” young Arthur says.
“I only know how to be a servant.”
The Lady of the Lake responds: “Then you possess everything you need to be a king.”
So goes one interaction in “Arthur's Stone, Merlin's Fire: The Making of a King,” opening tonight for a two-weekend run in the Mountain View Commons gym, 1925 Blaine St.
Port Townsend's OCEAN students, from kindergarten up through 12th grade, are staging the show at 7 p.m. today and Saturday as well as next Friday and Saturday, March 14 and 15, and at 2 p.m. this Sunday and Sunday, March 16.
Admission is pay-what-you-can at the door, with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
The show is appropriate for all ages, said co-director Marc Weinblatt, though stage combat scenes might be too intense for very young children.
“Arthur's Stone” is set in the sixth century near the Scottish Lowlands, just after the departure of the Roman empire.
It's one of the most famous legends in Western mythology, but to Weinblatt, it's also the story of a teenager becoming a man.
With Merlin's mentoring, the at-first-reluctant Arthur learns to step into his true power, Weinblatt said.
Weinblatt is founder of Port Townsend's Mandala Center for Change, which facilitates community theater productions.
With “Arthur's Stone” co-director Rowen Matkins, he's working with the students in OCEAN, which stands for Opportunity, Community, Experience, Academics and Navigation.
The production is a kind of indoor theater-in-the-park, Weinblatt said; patrons are invited to bring pillows and such to make sitting on the floor more comfortable, while there will be some chairs and bleachers available, too.
The best part of this, added Matkins, is seeing the young actors bloom.
There's a “magic that happens,” he said, “as they become a community creating art.”
The young cast is working with a creative team that includes composer Laurence Cole — who wrote music especially for this production — along with Lisa Doray, Carianna Bell Schreitz, Kate Heinsberg and costumers Anji Scalf and Jeanne Simmons. The artists are creating apparel, puppets, scenery and props from scratch.
Living chess game
Among the play's special effects are a chess game that comes alive, “Stonehenge frames” and a life-size raven, Weinblatt noted.
Local sculptor Gunter Reimnitz worked with the students, showing them how he makes articulated wing templates to create the most lifelike movements.
Then there's stage combat choreographer Nathan Barnett and combat coach Sam Cavallaro.
Given the theater-in-the-round format, audiences will experience the fight scenes up-close, Weinblatt added.
Leading the cast are Noah Morningstar, 15, as King Arthur and Alanna Dailey, 18, as Merlin, disguised as the mysterious tinker, Torag.
Tanner Matthew plays the moody and powerful Morgaine, who attempts to sway Arthur as he reluctantly enters his new role as the Pendragon (King).
Arthur's mischievous sidekick, Nimue, is played by Hannah Bahls, and Keira Matkins is double-cast as the Lady of the Lake as well as Enid, the village mead-maker.
Supporting players include Alex Kuykendall, Austin Krieg, Bodie LaBrie, Caleb Staley, Callay Boire-Shedd, Clara Noble Johnson, Jasmine Yearian, Max Doray, Mimi Molostky, Orion Weinblatt Dey, Salvera Deane, Sienna Fink, Sophia Breithaupt, Mahina Gelderloos and Anna Molotsky. Younger actors appear in the Village and in the Forest Perilous: Aliyah Yearian, Anabel Moore, Ayden Ratliff, Dante Deane, Matia Reimnitz and Zoey Doray.
To learn more about the OCEAN program and its “Arthur's Stone” saga, phone Weinblatt at 360-344-3435 or visit www.MandalaforChange.com.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.