All hail the queen, who is finally getting a chance to rule her own castle! Well, at least in a reenactment.
Medieval Times, a chain of dinner theater venues that features 11th century-era dramas, has announced that by the end of 2018, all nine of its locations will have women leading its shows.
In the 34 years Medieval Times has been entertaining people, its usual show plot line involved a king, who would be represented by a tournament-determined champion, going up against a challenger. The new storyline will be about a queen who has taken the throne after her father’s death. She holds a tournament of her own to find the very best knight, but tensions escalate when one knight challenges her authority.
This change has already been made at the chain’s Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and Lyndhurst, New Jersey locations.
The revisions to the show follow the international discussions about gender equality due to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement, but the show changes have actually been in the works for quite a while.
Leigh Cordner, a former Marine who has been working for Medieval Times for 30 years, is the director of the show. He started writing a queen-centric plot for the chain a year and a half before accusations came out against Harvey Weinstein. He says that the changes were prompted by Medieval Times audience members who wanted to know why women only played princesses.
“The fact that a woman is sitting on the throne in our show at the same time the gender equality movement hit is a coincidence,” Cordner told The New York Times.
The chain brings in approximately 2.5 million customers a year, so there is hope that the change in storyline might inspire someone.
“If it can help empower women and we can be role models for these young women and men and show you need to respect women, then it is very fortuitous timing,” said Monet Lerner, who plays the queen in Dallas. “It gives you the chills.”
Kyle Calloway, who plays a knight at Medieval Times in Dallas, said that the change in plot has had little effect on the actors’ and audience’s dynamics, except for when the queen shuts down a sexist knight.
“You do get a huge reaction from the females in the crowd,” he said.
Even with this response, however, it seems Medieval Times might have to do more to convince their audience that women deserve their chance to shine, too. For starters, they could stop referring to their waitresses as “wenches,” but they may also have to prove that queens can be badass.
“The king gives it a more powerful feeling,” John Freeman, an audience member in Dallas, said. “You can just feel the emotions better.”
But his wife, Stacey, thought that the change gave the audience a new perspective.
“In my everyday life, I don’t see that I’m treated any different than a man, but I know it happens,” she said.
Hopefully someday, everyone will come to see Medieval Times’ new plot line as refreshing and eye-opening, no matter what their experience with sexism might be. Until then, however, the women playing the queens will enjoy their new opportunity and remain hopeful about its implications.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter