By Briana Hallstrom
C.S. Lewis” classic story “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is at the BYU Margetts Theater this week, adding to the Christian themes that have punctuated the media with “The Passion of the Christ.”
The story, famous for its parallels to Christ”s life, follows the tale of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy who have been evacuated because of air raids during WWII. They discover the land of Narnia through a wardrobe closet and meet a myriad of characters, both good and evil.
George Nelson, the play”s director, said C.S. Lewis” story is epic. In reality, he said, C.S. Lewis” simplistic way of relaying Christian concepts is unmatched in his accuracy and depth.
“I don”t know of any other author that is quoted by the general authorities more than C.S. Lewis,” he said. “This gentleman understood Christianity – he understood Christ and what He expected of us.”
In conjunction with C.S. Lewis” skill as a storyteller, Nelson said the play is a great opportunity for thoughtful discussion in an enjoyable atmosphere.
“I have told my cast very clearly that I, number one, want them to relax and have fun,” he said. “And number two, I want them to bear their testimonies.”
While the story was originally written as a children”s fantasy, its spiritual implications are ones of considerable depth. Even with the maturity of the material, Nelson said children will not be lost when it comes to understanding the play”s significance.
“I give kids a lot more credit for thinking than a lot of people do,” he said. “I don”t cut it down. I don”t deal with it in a fashion that I”m going to lessen its theatrical value for children.”
However, Nelson has taken measures to enhance children”s understanding of the material.
“I have made its visual images a little bit stronger,” he said, “so connections can be made and analogies can become clearer.”
Those visual images include costuming, in which Nelson said he made a point to have the animal characters look like people. He said he did not want children to think the characters were real animals, so that the reality of the story would be more apparent.
Nelson said he saw the spiritual benefits of the production after his 11-year-old son saw the dress rehearsal.
“My son said, ”When I read the book Dad, I kind of thought a little about Jesus,” he said. “”But I didn”t really make the connection until I was there watching the play. And then I really saw that it was Jesus.”
Nelson said the play sparked a deep conversation between his wife and son about Christ”s sacrifice, and he could not be happier with the result.
“If nothing else comes out of the production,” he said, “other than just my son talking to my wife about it, then I”ll really feel like I”ve accomplished my goal.”
Miranda Giles, 20, majoring in theater studies, is the stage manager of the play. She said the notion of realism is an important part of the production.
“The concept of the show is that it”s all placed in the imagination of the children,” she said, “which makes it more real. The setting doesn”t take you out of the real world. And when it”s set in a realistic place, it becomes a realistic principle.”
Kelly Garrison, 21, majoring in acting, plays a skunk, dwarf and a shadow. She said Christ”s powers of forgiveness, exemplified through Aslan, were especially significant to her.
“As a cast, it was our duty to bear our testimonies of the redemptive powers of Christ and the Atonement,” she said. “At the end of the play, there are a couple of people who turn from the bad side to good, and Aslan just accepted them with open arms.”
Nelson said in “The Passion of the Christ” the story deals with the death of the Savior. In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” however, Nelson said C.S. Lewis dealt with Christ”s life. Moreover, he said the author had a simplistic goal.
“You go through the play and there”s just sacrifice after sacrifice,” he said. “I want people to think about all the sacrifices that have been made for them, and not just the eternal ones, but the temporal ones as well.”