What’s your show about?
For Carolina Crown artistic director Rick Subel, it’s important to have a quick answer to that ever-popular question.
“I don't want to have that be longer than a one-sentence conversation,” Subel said.
Subel’s goal is for his answer, in its brevity, to give audience members an immediate understanding of the nuts and bolts, and open the door for their own deeper interpretation upon viewing.
So, one might ask, what’s Carolina Crown 2023 about?
“It's a modern retelling of Camelot,” he added.
In essence, it’s that simple. “The Round Table: Echoes of Camelot,” Carolina Crown’s production to be performed across the 2023 DCI Summer Tour, offers a modern take on the age-old story of King Arthur.
The Round Table: Echoes of Camelot | Crown 2023 Production
Carolina Crown is proud to present our 2023 program... "𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗥𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗗 𝗧𝗔𝗕𝗟𝗘: 𝗘𝗖𝗛𝗢𝗘𝗦 𝗢𝗙 𝗖𝗔𝗠𝗘𝗟𝗢𝗧" Based on Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur,” our production is a modern retelling of these fabled legends and the rise and fall of Camelot. Passionate, powerful, thrilling, and timeless. Read the full article, musical selections and tour schedule: tinyurl.com/Crown2023Production #theroundtable #royalfam #carolinacrown #dci2023Posted by Carolina Crown on Thursday, May 25, 2023
With that knowledge alone, a strong foundation is set.
“You should know about King Arthur and have a general idea of this medieval, chivalrous concept,” he said. “And this is our modern interpretation of that. I think it gives us a wide-open platform, without a lot of explanation, to be inventive and to be clever.”
But of course, it’s a drum corps show. As such, there’s much more to it than its foundational concept.
In terms of overarching storytelling, Subel said Carolina Crown’s depiction of King Arthur’s story breaks down into distinct sections. The show opens on Arthur’s boyhood ascension from humble beginnings to the throne — a story of destiny and worthiness with which Subel hopes audiences can connect.
“Everybody loves that story, that it could be anyone,” he said. “People take away that part of it, that anyone could be king.”
The story then follows Arthur’s rule, as he aims to improve and enhance his kingdom — and “to do it the right way,” as Subel put it — and his assemblage of “the round table,” his closest advisors.
Conflict then arises, as the production depicts a love affair between Arthur’s most trusted confidante, Lancelot, and his queen, Guinevere. As Subel put it, an “unraveling” follows, in which a vulnerable Arthur faces attacks on his authority, and is mortally wounded by Mordred, his son.
In the end, the final feeling of the show is one of introspection. With his rise to power, his well-intentioned vision for Camelot’s greatness, and his fall via betrayal all behind him, Arthur is left to ask himself a question in his last moments that Subel described as one of the show’s defining elements.
“Was all of that worth it? All of the things I did, is it even going to matter?” Subel said. “In that moment, you don't know that your story is going to be told for thousands of years after you.”
In terms of music, Carolina Crown has a rich and extensive repertoire planned for 2023 — one which spans diverse genres. Subel noted that the intent in each of the corps’ music selections was based around the emotions they would elicit, and matching those with the various rises and falls of the story at hand.
“It’s epic in its scope,” Subel said of the corps’ music. “It's very hard-hitting, and it's very visceral, and gritty. And it's powerful.”
“We tried to create that suspension of disbelief,” he continued. “Everybody knows we're on a football field, but hopefully, they can be transported into the emotions and feelings of that world.”
He added that, in embodying the “modern” aspect of the corps’ “modern retelling,” the music itself isn’t necessarily in the on-the-nose medieval style one might expect.
“It doesn’t (sound medieval), it sounds very contemporary,” he said. “It's this thousand-year old story that feels very modern and contemporary.”
From a visual perspective, Carolina Crown plans to utilize plenty of varying stage set pieces to help aid the storytelling.
For one, there will be a roundtable. There will also be, according to Subel, other props that represent “characters” throughout the production, and embody different aspects of King Arthur’s tale.
“The throne represents his kingdom, the roundtable itself represents all of Camelot, the crown represents his authority, the sword represents his skill,” Subel said. “These props are utilized by different people at different times to portray those different components.”
Subel also depicted versatile uses of set pieces to help portray the devolution of King Arthur and his kingdom.
“When we think of the unraveling of Camelot — it really does that,” he said. “This big, 30-foot table, that's the foundation of Camelot, comes apart and becomes different versions of itself.”
“It just dissipates into nothing,” he added, “where the only thing that's left is the throne, the sword, the crown, and Arthur himself.”
At the end of the day, in Subel’s eyes, the beauty of the corps’ 2023 production is its relatability.
Why? Because, as he described, anyone can relate to the story of King Arthur in their own way.
“Everyone has their Camelot,” he said.
To him, and those involved in the Carolina Crown organization, their own Camelot will take shape right before their eyes throughout the summer.
“It’s this small, niche world of ours, and we try to make it as beautiful and powerful as it can, and to create something long lasting, that's going to live forever,” he said. “Every performer, when they're done with that last release and they're taking in that audience ovation, they're going to say, ‘Is this enough to be remembered for all time?’”
Carolina Crown is set to kick off its 2023 summer tour on June 30 in Muncie, Indiana.