MAKING VISIT NARNIA HAPPEN IN YOUR CHURCH
Here you will find resources to help you turn your Church into Narnia!
"People gasped. A lot of hard work had
gone into this and I reckon that every artificial Christmas tree in the village
is now in the church. We were ushered round by stewards as the story unfolded
in a performance by adults and children which lasted for about 45 minutes.
There was a LOT of applause at the end. However, that was not the end of our
Narnia Experience". (From Upton Magna)
Visit Narnia is a way of encouraging people to explore the Christian story through a performance of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It is an interactive performance in which the audience are also participants in the play; unlike a ‘normal’ play where people sit and watch action on the stage, the whole church becomes the stage and the audience can follow the action around different parts of the space.
It is a great production to do as a community venture, involving as many people as possible, and not just Churchgoers. The two communities we worked with were delighted to be able to involve lots of local people in all sorts of ways. There was no requirement to come to Church or any expectation that people would do so; this was about growing community cohesion. Before, during and for a long time after the performances, people in the community were talking about Visit Narnia.
Visit Narnia is a community theatre project and uses improvisation; in other words there is no script! This means that every performance is fresh and slightly different, and no-one is worrying about learning or forgetting lines. Having no script means it doesn't matter how old the members of the cast are, or how good at reading or remembering. It sounds daunting, but it's actually very easy and great fun. We still rehearsed and prepared, but the members of the cast really talked to each other, rather than quoted lines. If someone forgot where they were in the story, someone else could help them out. That rarely happened, though, because everyone felt so much a part of the Narnia story.
To find out more about improvisation and some suggestions for doing this with Visit Narnia, click on this document:
Some photos from Lindridge to show the transformation that can be made on a low budget:
And some set photos when the work was done:
"Hand on heart, who didn’t stop in their tracks when
they entered the church? Transforming this space, particularly by bringing the
outside inside, itself a significant tradition at this time of year, with our
Christmas trees and greenery decoration, is a way of looking outside of the
usual, the ordinary, in order to find the sacred". Revd Louise Grace at Lindridge.
In both locations a craft cafe was run, with themed activities for children
while they waited for their performance, or after they had seen the play.
In both productions, we had very little budget. This encouraged people to get involved in all sorts of ways. It wasn't just about acting, but helping with the set building, lending things to be props, making cakes for the cafe, serving in the cafe...the list was almost endless! It was a real community project.
Remember, you're not trying to outperform the Royal Shakespeare Company: this is a community project and your best is good enough! Do it your way, in your time and enjoy it!
Some set photos from Upton Magna
For an idea of the help/jobs to do for people in the community, here's the letter produced in Upton Magna, requesting help and involvement.
A play on the move!
The performance took place in different areas of the Church, and the audience moved around as the location changed. For this, we needed stewards who guided the audience, made sure they were in the right place, and that the needs of anyone with mobility needs were met. We drew up a guide sheet for the stewards to help them manage, and we had a rehearsal with them and the cast.
Some video footage of the productions is available on our Youtube Channel
A first hand report on Visit Narnia at Upton Magna, Shropshire with photos:
The play only includes the scenes of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' that take place in Narnia. How Aslan is portrayed is important: we used a specially made snapper mask (as seen in the photo above), operated by a cast member with someone else providing his voice over a microphone which had the effect of making him grander and louder than everyone else. He needs to be a strong presence, and a 'cuddly toy' Aslan probably won't work well. If you decide to have an actor play Aslan, it's probably better, and easier, to have him standing on two legs (as in the book illustrations)and use a silicone head.
The silicone heads we used for the beavers, mouse and fox, were bought quite reasonably on eBay, but it is possible to make masks yourself, as we did for the first production. Thinking about how easy it is for the actors to see is very important when considering masks and heads.
In one production, we had a sleigh for the White Witch. It was made from a small trailer with a chair inside, and decorated. In the other, we had the sound effects of sleigh bells but no sleigh - the queen and her minion entered on foot.
In both productions, the performances all took place on one day - four performances of 45 minutes, with a break in between. The ticket offices had to make sure that they sold the correct number of tickets for each performance, and that the right tickets were issued. Here is how the tickets were made:
You might want to do it differently, and spread your performances across more days. Remember this will mean more volunteers and commitment from the cast and stewards.
*Please remember to work with your Church DBS officer before embarking on this production.
*Please also remember to do risk assessments, taking guidance from your local Church H&S officer.
Ideas for flyers from each of the productions
Green Blade Theatre can offer a Skype or telephone consultancy to help you get your production off the ground.(There would be a modest fee per session for this).
email Eva at firstname.lastname@example.org
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR VERSION OF VISIT NARNIA! DON'T FORGET TO LET US KNOW YOU'RE DOING IT! WE WILL HAPPILY PUBLICISE YOUR DATES ON THE SITE.