Report On Narnia Night At Asbury

Asbury College in Wilmore, KY hosted Narnia Night 2008 on April 25th. NarniaWebber Lady Éowyn was one of those in attendance and she sent in a report.:


Walking up the red carpet on the stairs, the first thing I see of Hughes Auditorium is the word STRAND. Aha, I know this one! The halls are decorated with bricks, and as it’s difficult to see more of the setting for all the people streaming in, I made my way towards a red suitcase and head down the aisles. I almost couldn’t see anything as I came in; the fog machine was making its periodic emission.

The stage was set up with greenery and crumbling “ruins,” like Cair Paravel, with a green light cast on the ceiling. The pre-show consisted of a trivia game, where copies of Prince Caspian, Prince Caspian posters — hundreds of extras were also available at the reception later — Narnia Night T-shirts and one hardback set of the Chronicles were given out. By the start of the event, the seating capacity of about 1400 was almost completely filled up.

The event began with some introductions by Dr. Mike Peterson and Dr. Sandra Gray, Asbury president, who then gave a word of prayer, then the videos began. What a very nice sound system, I must say! The videos were all previously Internet-released, but very fun to watch on a theatrical system. The first was the “Storytelling in Prince Caspian” video played at the Family Christian Stores events, which you can read about here, as glumPuddle was kind enough to transcribe it.

Next was a message from Phil Tallon (How Lewis Impacts Culture), and a video greeting from Chuck Colson (Why Lewis Matters Today). Colson in his greeting mentioned how vital the role of Lewis’ Mere Christianity was in his conversion, particularly his chapter on pride. He also mentions many of Lewis’ wonderful essays, one of which changed his mind on capital punishment; all his life he had been against it.

Next there was a video about the beginnings Asbury’s C.S. Lewis Center.

After this, Clayton Ferguson, the producer for the Becker Group, gave a presentation about The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition, with exclusive concept art of the museum experience — images that won’t be coming out online until after the exhibit premieres. The idea for the exhibit started about a year ago, and was primarily based on exhibiting the extremely detailed artistry and artisanship that went into the props, costumes and sets of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe — details the camera never captures.

Instead of creating a “making of” museum, said Ferguson, the idea behind the exhibition is that it be an experience — that you would really feel like you are in Narnia. The sets are all from the film or based on the ones in the film, with authentic costumes and props, and hands-on experiences with chain maille and armor from the film.

The experience begins in a recreation of Lewis’ own home, with authentic pipes, pens and one of two wardrobes of Lewis’, both of which are rumored to be the wardrobes that inspired the Narnian wardrobe we are familiar with. (I believe the other one mentioned is the one on display at the Wade Center at Wheaton college).

Guests then walk past rainy windows in a room created to look like Professor Kirke’s Spare Room, then, after listening to the voice of Douglas Gresham — what I presume would be part of the story or an introduction — they enter the wardrobe, push past fur coats, and then cross into a land of ice and snow.

Here he had shots of the original lamppost, behind-the-scenes, which would be set up here. From that point apparently you venture into Jadis’ land, where you can sit on her throne as Edmund did. As the exhibit will be educational as well as a great Narnia experience, here you can learn about climatology, relating to Jadis’ curse of the Hundred-Year-Winter, and whether any one would ever be able to control the weather someday — the answer, apparently, being no. 😉

From the concept art of a layout of the exhibit, it looked like Jadis’ area was the first area, and then you passed on into Narnia in summer. I saw a red tent like Aslan’s. Another bit of art showed a tall room with Narnia flags on the wall, and displays of armor, and one particularly nice glass case showing off Peter’s Narnian tunic and armor.

Other scenes in the concept art included a Prince Caspian-themed area, an exhibit labeled Treasures of the Past, with the statue of Lucy and her treasure chest, and opposite it a large — possibly interactive? — map of Narnia that looked like it would relate to the geographical changes of erosion that happened over the 1300-year period when the Telmarines conquered. In the background, I could spot a “beach” set-up with the four Pevensies’ school clothes, the way they wear them in Narnia.

Guests will also be able to see the creatures and their costumes up close (the art showed Ginarrbrik, and possibly a centaur or two). You can also travel on underneath a tree of twisted roots — Trufflehunter’s home.

Ferguson said that there will be the opportunity to “meet Reepicheep,” with a very accurate facsimile of one of our favorite characters, with dialogue.

One of the last pictures shown was a room patterned after Cair Paravel in the LWW coronation — I spotted Peter’s coronation outfit! — where guests can be “crowned by Aslan.” Forgot to ask further about that, but I’m sure we’ll hear reviews from the fortunate who will attend the premiere of the exhibit in Arizona, beginning June 7.

4840The gift shop at the end of the exhibit has everything Narnia, apparently — including some exciting new things, which it might be best to save and see when they come out.

He mentioned that the exhibit would have a five-year worldwide tour, with likely locations he threw out being London, Sydney, and Philadelphia.

After his presentation, the evening closed with the first Ben Barnes blog video, and the “Behind the Scenes: Journey Back Into Narnia,” which segued smoothly into the teaser trailer — which had plenty of bass.

The final presentation was by Dr. Devin Brown (whom we are privileged to see here once in awhile on NarniaWeb), called Prince Caspian: A Story of Strange Help, on the unanticipated and often unwelcome good that God can bless us with, instead of the good that we ourselves might hope for. This reflects in the attitude of Trumpkin toward the very ordinary- and young-seeming Pevensies, and the unexpected help Susan received when she blew her horn in LWW — not a powerful centaur, or even Aslan, but her inexperienced brother, who was able to kill Maugrim and save his sister, his first heroic act. I immediately thought to Ransom and the Lady in Perelandra, as he tries unsuccessfully to make her understand how someone could be disappointed with a different good that Maleldil sends.

The reception in the Student Center featured props from the LWW film as a bit of promotion for the Exhibition: Maugrim’s letter of arrest, the professor’s pipe and matches, Lucy’s candle and Mr. Tumnus’ handkerchief, and a chess set from Professor Kirke’s house. There was also a display with concept art and a Lewis display with letters and a copy of the Time magazine cover with Lewis.

Also featured were several lovely paintings of Aslan, a statue (paper maché?) of Aslan, and a costumes display of mine with my regrettably unfinished Susan PC coronation bodice, and brother NarniaWebber KnightofGondor in Narnian costume and. plenty of good food.

Further up and further in! And do try to check out that Narnia experience if it arrives anywhere remotely near you this year. Sounds like it’s worth traveling for!