Take thirty kids, throw in some swords, and lots of fur and you have a recipe for magic – the magic of Narnia. C.S Lewis’ much loved story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is coming to life on the War Memorial stage on the 1, 2, and 3rd November and is entirely produced by Gizzy locals.
The production is led by director Aimee Goddard who moved here with her Gisborne-born husband Mark and their children in 2014 and soon found herself running a theatre group for homeschool children. The group’s performances have grown each year, starting with the Jungle book on a church stage, to last year’s Peter Pan at the War Memorial theatre. “Each show has built layers of confidence in kids that once didn’t want to speak on stage and who are now feeling secure about being out there in a speaking part,” says Aimee. “Collaboration and skill sharing is huge with a project like this, and kids feed off that.”
That collaboration and skill sharing has been the lifeblood of the show. The Performing Arts arm of the Gisborne Homeschool group is producing the event with children and their whanau working together to create costumes and staging, find props and funding, and pull together the thousands of details that make up a show. Most of the children acting in the show are homeschooled and creating the play has been an interesting part of their education this year. “One of the best parts of doing a play with the homeschool group is we get to make our own costumes with the help of Megan Daniels (Costume Manager)” says Sophie Hemmington, who plays Mrs Macready. The children have also enjoyed working with Kate Lobb who, as a former stunt woman for Xena Warrior Princess, choreographed the battle scenes.
Along with the sewing and woodworking skills of parents, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has seen the magic of local support bring it to life. From local stores like Barwicks and Hospice Tairawhiti supplying props, to Mangapapa Church supplying rehearsal space,to grants from the Sunlight Foundation, COGS, Wainui Beach Church and Creative Communities, the support of Tairawhiti organisations has made the show possible. “Putting a show together is very costly,” says director Aimee, “so thanks to our sponsors we are able to offer an affordable theatre experience, which is a big goal for us. We want families to be able to afford to go see a play together.”
One of the ways the group has realised the goal of affordable theatre is by holding a koha performance for local schools with so far 300 children booked in to take up the opportunity. Tickets are also being kept at an affordable level so that families can attend.
With professional lighting, fantastic costumes and a talented young cast, the show promises to be a great experience and highlights what can be created when communities work together. The magic of theatre in Tairawhiti.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is being performed at the War Memorial Theatre from Friday November 1 to Sunday November 3.