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Another Medieval Themed Narrative on Stage

Updated: Aug 7

C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake 20 April 2018 | TMA

The first of the Narnia collection is coming to stage at the Shaw Festival, May 27-October 13, 2018, directed by Tim Carroll, who staged The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at the Stratford Festival last year. The story was written by C.S. Lewis to explain a few of the wonders of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; some critics believe that these things did not need to be answered as the book is a medieval fantasy and set in a magical world. The identity of the White Witch before she was evil and how a lamppost from 1950 London landed in Narnia could have remained mysteries. Thus, The Magician’s Nephew has been considered a weaker text than the story of the 2 Queens and 2 Kings battling the Witch in Narnia. In The Magician’s Nephew, Aslan creates Narnia and answers questions of how Narnia came into being. Carroll recreates the magic of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe from the Stratford stage at the Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake to share the origins of Lewis’s first Medieval fantasy for children. If you know the world of Narnia already and the allegory of Aslan, then the play will be familiar with talking animals and the grandeur of the lion. The wardrobe, however, is missing from the book and play. The dramatist, Michael O'Brien adds the frame of the Dreamers (chorus or Dream Detectives), which does not appear in C.S. Lewis’s fantasy text. Thus, one of the topics to consider in class is adaptation after reading the book for novel study and viewing the staging of this story. How did the playwright and director handle the transport of two children from London to the land of Charn without the wardrobe that makes for a clear transition on stage? The tree that grows in London after the adventure will be used to construct the wardrobe that Lucy uses to fall into an unknown world, while here the director has to move the children from various lands with rings. Students can discuss how to stage fantasy before seeing the play and then discuss the writer’s frames and the director’s choices. Teachers can brush up on the language and theory of adaptation with a Canadian scholar’s work, A Theory of Adaptation (2006; 2nd edition 2012) by Linda Hutcheon.


The Magician's Nephew (2015) A Theory of Adaptation (2012) See TMA Sop for more purchasing options How to cite this blog: TMA Staff, "Another Medieval Themed Narrative on Stage: C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake." Teaching the Middle Ages, April 20, 2018, https://www.teachingthemiddleages.com/post/another-medieval-themed-narrative-on-stage.

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