Your first theatre experience
If you’re sticking around Victoria for the holiday season, you might want to take a chance on Kaleidoscope Theatre’s two-person show of C.S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe.
Starring and produced by UVic Alumni, this production of The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe is told in 45 minutes for a younger audience. But how does one take a classic children’s book and retell it in under an hour with only two actors?
The key to condensing so many characters into such a small cast isn’t just up to the actors, but the design team as well. Dawson Rutledge (who plays Peter, Aslan, Edward, Mr. Tumus, and Mr. Beaver) explained that not only does it involve a lot of different voices and physical acting, but costume changes also help telegraph to the audience who’s talking at a given time.
Rutledge added that there’s never a dull moment while juggling so many characters within such a tight time limit. If anything, these constraints add to the experience. It forces the actors to hit the ground running and keep that level of energy going for the whole show. And of course, you have to be engaging for a younger audience.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Shea O’Connor (who plays Lucy and the White Witch) in an interview with the Martlet. “It’s very fast paced, super energetic, which makes it such a good show for young folks because it’s very engaging, and dynamic, and having us portray all of these characters lends itself well to a theatre-for-young-audiences show.”
“Young folks generally are just very honest. If they don’t like something, or they think something’s boring, you’re gonna feel that. I really appreciate that honesty,” said O’Connor. “We’re trying to captivate them and bring them along in the story with us, and I think if we’re tapping into that youthful energy and really focusing on taking them on a magical adventure … then we’re doing our jobs well.”
This production enables children to experience theatre for the first time, as it is designed for children first. O’Connor said it’s an honour to introduce both the story and the medium of theatre to a younger audience.
“You never know what this experience might give to those young people, so I’m excited to have them there. They’re our last ingredient to make the show come to life,” said O’Connor. Going to see a show is a way “to explore stories, but also explore empathy” since audiences can “see the world through [a character’s] eyes for a moment.”
Experiencing new stories in new formats is “something that fosters their creativity,” said O’Connor. “Especially with this production that’s so imaginative, so creative … we’re sparking that creativity for them, and that sense of wonder.”
Rutledge, who didn’t grow up with productions like this, said “I think it’s really cool that we’re creating a space for young people to go and see theatre because it’s something that some people don’t have access to.”
If you and your family are looking for a break this holiday season, Kaleidoscope Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe definitely sounds worth checking out.
The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe runs Dec. 14–26 at the Roxy Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the Kaleidoscope Theatre website.