Arthur and Guinevere Sample

Scene 1

(LIGHTS RISE on the palace lawn of Camelot. Arthur sits alone, reading a letter. Excalibur is on the ground at his feet.)

ARTHUR: Three days. Three days until Princess Guinevere arrives. (looking at the letter) “And with this marriage, you will unite our two kingdoms for all eternity.” (annoyed) Ha. So easy for them to say. Marriage to a total stranger? Love may be blind, but marriage is certainly going to be an eye-opener, isn’t it? “Oh, it’s going to be all right,” they tell me. “Marriage is a sacred thing, sent to us from heaven above.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Ha! Marriage may be made in heaven, but so are thunder, lightning, and tornados. What have I gotten myself into? (he glares at the letter) Marriage is when a man and woman become as one. The trouble starts when they try to decide which one. How am I supposed to do this? Marry a girl just because her father’s kingdom is the greatest manufacturer of manure in the entire world? My kingdom is counting on politics to keep them well supplied with fertilizer! They don’t care about my happiness. They don’t care that this is forever for me! I wish I’d never pulled that sword from the stone. (pause, to audience) Don’t…don’t tell anyone I said that. You see, everyone has, well, certain expectations of me. There’s really nothing worse than when people expect so much from you…

(Arthur pauses in despair. There’s noise from offstage.)

ARTHUR: They’re coming.

(Arthur quickly exits, leaving the sword behind. Morgana enters. She sees the sword and immediately reaches for it. There is a buzz of magical energy that repels her. Angrily, she glares at the sword, then holds her hands over it, casting an elaborate spell.)

MORGANA: If I can’t have it
Then nobody can.
Arthur’s no great leader
Just because he’s a man.

That fool is no king
For goodness sake.
So let his next touch
Cause the sword to break.

Let the people all question
Arthur’s right to rule.
Show all of Camelot
Their liege is a fool!

(She finishes her spell.)

MORGANA: And then, I shall be queen.

(She exits. A moment later, Lancelot enters, carrying a scroll. He crosses the stage, but suddenly spots the sword.)

LANCELOT: Your majesty! How many times I have I told you not to leave your magical sword lying around?

(He reaches for the sword, but a buzz of magical energy repels him. Suddenly, he spots the audience. He is surprised, a little scared and bashful, at first.)

LANCELOT: Oh! You’re here!

(He clears his throat, stands up straight, and speaks with an authoritative tone.)

LANCELOT: Hear, ye! Hear, ye!

(He unfurls his scroll. It’s seven feet long, at least.)

LANCELOT: (reading) You’ve heard the rumors
And they’re all quite true!
It’s King Arthur’s anniversary
And he’s invited all of you!

(beat)

I wrote that myself!

(reading)

So gather at the palace,
All of you who are able,
To feast with Camelot’s finest,
The knights of the round table.

(Gawain enters, carrying a bag that’s filled with props. He is Lancelot’s opposite in every way. Where one is tall, the other is short. Where one is thin, the other is round. Lancelot’s sword is a reasonable size. Gawain’s is absurdly long, prone to whacking people when he turns.)

GAWAIN: What are you doing?

LANCELOT: I’m just telling them about King Arthur.

GAWAIN: They know about him. His name is the title of the play. “Arthur and Guinevere.” (sotto) Sir Gawain, you’re so wise. (aloud) Who said that? (sotto) Nobody. (aloud) Oh, go on with you!

LANCELOT: Oh. (beat) Sorry.

GAWAIN: Anyway, I have a much more important job for you.

LANCELOT: What?

(Gawain reaches into his bag and pulls out a mirror. He hands it to Lancelot.)

GAWAIN: Hold this.

(Lancelot struggles a bit to balance both the mirror and scroll, but eventually gets it. Gawain pulls a comb out of his bag and starts to brush his hair in the mirror.)

LANCELOT: But Gawain, I’m supposed to be telling the audience what to do. It’s in the script.

GAWAIN: A job far too important to trust to anyone but the best. And that’s me. (sotto) You’re the best, Sir Gawain. (aloud) Who said that? (sotto) Nobody! (aloud) Well. I’ll tell them what to do. It’s frightfully simple, really. They’re all here to admire the king. (to audience) You can do that, can’t you? All you have to do is cheer uproariously whenever he appears.

(Gawain thrusts the comb into Lancelot’s hand.)

GAWAIN: Pretend I’m him. Give me a good cheer.

(Pause for audience response. Gawain milks it for all it’s worth.)

GAWAIN: Yes. Yes, I know. I am magnificent. But save some for King Arthur, won’t you?

(Gawain takes another comb out of his bag, along with a can of hairspray. Perhaps, “Ye Olde Hairspray.” He goes back to combing his hair in the mirror.)

LANCELOT: I can’t believe Arthur’s been our king for a whole year now. We’ve had no luck at all with kings here. First there was that dentist we thought would be a good king.

GAWAIN: Well, he was partway there. His teeth were all crowned.

LANCELOT: And then there was the one who was obsessed with sandwiches.

GAWAIN: Who’d have thought the Burger King wouldn’t make a decent leader?

LANCELOT: And then there was that month where we let a wooden board sit on the throne.

GAWAIN: In all fairness, he was a ruler. Oh, but Arthur is different.

(Gawain shoves the second comb and the hairspray into Lancelot’s hands. He turns to address the audience while Lancelot juggles the props.)

GAWAIN: There was a sword, the great Excalibur, lodged into a stone. And written upon the stone was a prophecy: “Hey, wanna be king? Just pull this sword out and use it to fight evil and you can totally be king or something.” (beat) So beautifully written.

LANCELOT: And Arthur was the one to do it.

GAWAIN: They already know that, Lancelot. I would have done it myself, of course. I can draw ten swords in stones before I’ve even had breakfast. But I thought I’d be charitable and let someone have a crack at it.

LANCELOT: You’re a giving soul.

GAWAIN: I know.

(Gawain takes a second, larger bottle of hairpsray out of his bag and starts styling his hair in the mirror.)

LANCELOT: Well, I’m just glad it was Arthur and not that sister of his.

GAWAIN: Oh, Morgana. She’s a vile one.

(Gawain thrusts the hairspray into Lancelot’s hands, turning to address the audience. Lancelot sways from side to side, dangerously close to toppling over.)

GAWAIN: (to audience) If you ever see that Morgana, you be sure to boo and hiss at her for all you’re worth. Do you hear me? That woman is as evil as I am handsome. Which means she’s very, very evil. Do you think you can do that? Give it a go.

(Pause for audience reaction.)

GAWAIN: Well done, audience. Of course, I could boo louder.

(Pause for audience reaction.)

GAWAIN: You’re not half bad.

(Gawain turns to look at Lancelot. Lancelot drops all of his props.)

GAWAIN: Clumsy. I don’t understand how you ever became a knight.

LANCELOT: I took lessons. I was the top of my class, in fact. In knight school.

GAWAIN: Pick that up.

(Lancelot gets down on his knee and starts picking things up. Arthur enters. He tries to sneak past Lancelot and Gawain, but they spot him.)

GAWAIN: It’s the king! Get up, Lancelot! The king is here!

ARTHUR: Oh. Hello…

(Lancelot stands up.)

GAWAIN: (kneeling) Your majesty!

(Lancelot drops to his knee again.)

LANCELOT: Your majesty!

(Gawain stands up. Lancelot starts to stand up again.)

GAWAIN: Get back down there and pick up my things.

LANCELOT: Will you make up your mind already!?!

(Lancelot starts gathering Gawain’s things.)

ARTHUR: Where are the other knights? This is the dark ages. How can it be the dark ages without a lot of knights? Maybe you should go find them. I’ll just…wait here. I won’t try to sneak out the window and swim the moat or anything like that.

GAWAIN: I think a couple of them are in the kitchen.

LANCELOT: I know I saw Sir Loin there.

GAWAIN: And that fat, new knight. Oh, what’s his name? Sir Cumference?

LANCELOT: Yes. He he can eat more pie than anyone else.

GAWAIN: Not me! I could out-eat him on horseback, with one arm tied behind my back. (beat) Their loss. What do you say we get this party started? Let’s have some fun.

ARTHUR: I…

(Lancelot gets his scroll.)

LANCELOT: According to the schedule, the first thing you’re supposed to do is welcome your guests.

GAWAIN: Easy. (to audience) Welcome. (to Lancelot) Done. What’s next?

LANCELOT: The king is supposed to do it.

GAWAIN: Sorry. Go ahead, sire.

ARTHUR: Er, no. No. You did just fine Gawain.

GAWAIN: Naturally.

LANCELOT: Right… (beat) Next, your majesty, you’re supposed to give a speech offering thanks.

ARTHUR: A speech. Is that…is that really necessary?

GAWAIN: I’ll do it! Choose me! Choose me!

LANCELOT: It’s supposed to be the king.

ARTHUR: A speech offering thanks. All right then. (he steps forward) Um…thank you?

(Arthur steps back, looking embarrassed. There’s a moment of silence. Finally, Lancelot clears his throat and checks the scroll again.)

LANCELOT: Erm. Next we pause for a moment of silent remembrance.

(A moment of uncomfortable silence.)

ARTHUR: Next?

GAWAIN: When does the fun begin?

LANCELOT: Well…

(Lancelot starts running through the scroll. Gawain gets impatient with him and snatches it, tossing it off stage.)

LANCELOT: My scroll…

GAWAIN: I know what you people really want. You want to see the sword. Am I right?

(Pause for audience reaction.)

GAWAIN: Well, here it is! (to Arthur) Show them Excalibur.

ARTHUR: All right…

(Arthur picks up Excalibur. There’s a magical sound accompanying it.)

LANCELOT: Yes, your majesty. The sword is great, but we really have to-

GAWAIN: Can you believe how dull he is?

(Gawain drapes an arm over Arthur’s shoulders and musses up his hair.)

GAWAIN: And I hereby decree that this whole thing is too dull. We’re warriors in our prime. Let’s go out and dance. Let’s enjoy the knight life!

(There is a buzzing sound. All three of them look around.)

ARTHUR: What’s that?

LANCELOT: A dragonfly, I think.

GAWAIN: Ah ha! You know what this calls for?

(Silence.)

GAWAIN: (sotto) What, Sir Gawain? (aloud) I’m glad you asked. We’re knights. Don’t you think we ought to try slaying a dragon? (to Arthur) Go on, your majesty. Slay the mighty beast.

ARTHUR: I don’t know…

GAWAIN: Go on!

(Using Excalibur, Arthur chases the dragonfly around the stage.)

LANCELOT: I don’t know about this, Gawain.

GAWAIN: This is what the people need to see, a king who conquers. I’d join in myself, but I would hate to show up the poor boy! I’m the world’s greatest dragonfly slayer! I can slay ten dragonflies blindfolded with an apple in my mouth.

LANCELOT: Your majesty, I really don’t think you should use Excalibur to-

(Arthur whacks the dragonfly. Excalibur breaks in his hands, the blade falling off of the hilt.)

GAWAIN: Uh oh…

LANCELOT: He broke the sword.

ARTHUR: Just a…slight accident.

LANCELOT: He broke the sword.

ARTHUR: Nothing to worry about.

LANCELOT: He broke the sword!

GAWAIN: Yes, Lancelot. The whole audience can see that.

LANCELOT: But, but, but! The sword! The prophecy! How can he use the sword to fight evil if it’s broken! How can be he king!?

GAWAIN: You’re being a little dramatic. I’m sure it’s nothing Merlin can’t fix. I’d fix it myself, of course. I can fix twelve swords in eleven seconds, using nothing but a bottle of Windex. But we ought to give the old boy a shot at it first.

LANCELOT: Yes! Merlin! You should go to Merlin!

ARTHUR: But it’s so far away…

LANCELOT: The sword needs to be repaired. Otherwise, people might start questioning your right to rule. And your sister will surely take advantage of that.

ARTHUR: Oh. All right. I’ll go to Merlin.

GAWAIN: It’s dangerous to go alone. You should bring the best of your knights with you. (sotto) Pick Sir Gawain, he’s the best knight. (aloud) Who said that? (sotto) Nobody. (aloud) You’re too kind!

ARTHUR: Gawain, Lancelot, you’ll both come with me.

GAWAIN: He said my name first. You heard it, right? He said my first.

LANCELOT: This is going to be a long voyage…

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