The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I was twenty years old on my first visit to Narnia. I had heard of it when I was growing up, but I had spent more of my time in Middle Earth. Anyone who saw me reading the library’s worn copy of The Hobbit would always say, “You should read The Chronicles of Narnia.”
“Someday,” I said, “someday.”
It wasn’t until I encountered two other works by C.S. Lewis that I determined to voyage out of the land of Spare Oom and into Aslan’s world. The Screwtape Letters was first, followed closely by Mere Christianity. With the first book, I caught a glimpse of a different, terrifying kind of evil: subtle, polite…comfortable. It was as though my soul had been laid out, and Screwtape himself had tactically planned out my own, personalized and elaborate fall into complacent Christianity. With Mere Christianity, however, Lewis offered a solution in the Grace of Christ and a logical reasoning as to why it was the only solution. Then, when I was told of the relationship between Lewis and Tolkein, Narnia was the next logical destination.
I enjoyed reading it, but I couldn’t help but feel like I had missed out. I had seen the book too late, and I had lost the opportunity to find the magic with a child’s faith and imagination. I was older, smarter, wiser (with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek). That is why I have been so surprised by the joy of seeing this production come to life. I hadn’t missed the magic. I had entered Narnia through another door.
Theatre and Narnia aren’t too different, really. When you come into the theatre, you leave all of the noise, the stress, and the demands of the "real" world behind. You walk into a darkened room, and before long, another completely separate world opens up in front of you. It’s a world with its own set of rules, lives, and wonders, but it also invites us in to share in its noise and stress and demands. A play thrives on the faith of its viewers, and in return it gives the audience something to believe in. Belief builds houses out of light and tea cups out of the air; it darkens the night and brightens the day; for us, it transforms students into nymphs, and monsters, and animals. The more immersed you are in the world, the more deeply affected you are when the lights come back on. Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund all come out of the wardrobe more fully alive than when they first came to Narnia. Through their experiences in this other world, they were given a glimpse of all they could be. It is our hope that this story of a king who humbles himself, even to death, and brings forgiveness to those who do not deserve it does the same for you.