Sunday, September 28, 2008

Goodbye to Narnia, until next time


Narnia has been left behind finally, for this year. This brings both a sense of relief and sadness. After several weeks of intensive rehearsal, and nine performances, we’ve probably given it as much energy as any show can take – from an amateur troupe. But it’s still sad to see the set dismantled, and the props put away, and the costumes lying in piles. For a time the theatre becomes our second home, so we’ll miss that too, in spite of the fact that the facilities aren’t exactly A grade. Nevertheless, the Mayfair is the only theatre in Dunedin that most amateur groups will perform at: it’s a good size, but not over-large (like the Regent) and even though it was built as a picture theatre originally (as far as I’m aware) it has great acoustics, and a sense of place.
I was even more fond of His Majesty’s before they turned it into a nightclub – one of the many disastrous decisions made by various City Council members, back in the 60s and 70s, who appeared to have had little foresight or vision. His Majesty’s had been the home to hundreds of local amateur groups over the years, as well as innumerable touring professional shows. It was a good size, (again not overlarge) and a proper theatre. Its backstage facilities, by today’s standards, probably wouldn’t have been that hot, but the many companies who used it don’t seem to have complained a lot. I remember the rabbit warren of dressing rooms out the back, and the orchestra pit with the names of dozens of musicians scribbled on its walls. There’s been talk of revamping the Mayfair on a number of occasions (the company that owns it just doesn’t have the money to upgrade it) but in spite of it being an asset to the city, it’s surprising how little enthusiasm there is on the part of the City Council to help support it; yet they’ve been hundreds of thousands already on the blasted Stadium with far less support from people, and seem to be intent on spending far more.
Anyway, all in all, The Dawn Treader was a great success – perhaps not financially, but certainly with the audience. Those who came seem to have loved it, and many declared it the best effort yet from the Narnia Production crew. My wife took photos of the play on Friday night at the behest of the director, and until I saw the photos even I hadn’t realised just how good it all looked. There are some scenes in the play that I never see: I hadn’t realised just how the good the costumes looked in those scenes, and how great the art work on the sets was. (I usually have my back to the sets!) But when you can actually step away from being in the play and see it more as a whole, you begin to more appreciate the work other people have done.
We presented about a quarter of an hour of the play at church this morning, at the request of our senior pastor, who discussed some of the themes in the book/play. It was a bit like doing it naked: I didn’t have any makeup on (which was great from my point of view as it meant I didn’t have to have another big clean-up) and we had none of the scenery (it was still down at the theatre) and only some of the props. Nevertheless, the actors managed to rise to the occasion.

In the photo, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace have just arrived soaking wet on the Dawn Treader.
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