Performed & Written by Debbie Cannon
Directed by Flavia D’Avila
You never quite know what whimsical journey through folklore or history may present at the Scottish Storytelling Centre; why one day, it may be Dragons and Kelpies, the next, Rowdy Poets and Ceilidhs. But this afternoon, the court of Camelot returns, brought to life from a more feminine perspective, an angle universally ignored or forgotten about when discussing King Arthur, his men, or indeed a Green Knight.
Casting herself into the proceedings and original character in the 14th-century tale, the initial moments of the performance stay strictly at hand with the original story of the titular Green Knight, a towering creature, marching into the castle and King Arthur’s presence to issue a challenge; inviting any man to strike him down, should they agree to then take a blow themselves the on years. Foolishly perhaps arrogantly, Sir Gawain accepts and severs the Knight’s head, and one year later, in the final moments, She seeks to lure him from his bed, into a realm of sin to push back against virtue. It is from this perspective that the tales erupt.
Remarkable intelligence is often off-putting to audiences, and Dr Debbie Cannon’s insightful re-telling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a remarkable piece of meticulous adaptation of creativity. It welcomes those who may not be familiar with the mediaeval poetic piece and transfigures The Green Knight into a masterful highlight of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Fringe programming.
Taking the heart of the poem and re-telling it from this perspective enables Cannon’s animated performance to flourish, summoning vivid images within the audience’s mind. And in storytelling glee, each character has a voice, a spirit, and a name, and is separate enough from each of Cannon’s characterisations to keep audiences transfixed.
From the perspective of a mediaeval text – some archaic truths cannot be swept over. And elements of Cannon’s character remain tied to the masculine perspective of the original tale, with the bitterness and dismissive attitudes toward Lady Bertilak. But it’s the unfortunate truth, that the genius of storytelling, particularly for people like Cannon, must still yield somewhat to the truth of history and folklore.
An hour flies, and time halts for Green Knight. With not but traditional storytelling and a handful of props, Dr Cannon’s returning piece maintains its lustre for returning and new audiences. A fantastic bridge between centuries and contemporary, and for centuries, women were the storytellers of this Earth. Peddlers of tales and fables for scraps, drinks, and coins. Now re-opening the leather-bound tomes and reclaiming their voice, Green Knight adds to a wave of Female-led Fringe pieces this year, reclaiming their deserved spot in the foundations of this Festival as worldwide storytellers, performers, and in this case, Kingmakers.
‘Remarkable Intelligence, Vivid.
Green Knight runs at The Scottish Storytelling Centre until August 14th
Tickets for which may be obtained here.
Photo Credit – Paul McGuigan