First Look at Shasta and Bree in ‘The Horse and His Boy’ Stage Play

This Friday, The Horse and His Boy will make its first appearance on a professional stage in the United States. Here is the first official photo of the completed Bree puppet with Shasta in costume.

The horse (left), his boy (right)

Performances will run March 1 – April 27 at The Logos Theatre in Taylors, SC. Buy tickets or donate.


23 Responses

  1. JFGII says:

    Prepare To Be Wowed.

  2. coracle says:

    Ooh! I feel excited. I'd been a bit concerned that Shasta wouldn't 'look' right (after seeing photos of another cast elsewhere with a distinctly tanned actor playing Shasta), but they both look wonderfully true to the book illustrations!

    • JFGII says:

      I shouldn’t care whether an actor ‘looks’ the character so much as they ‘are’ the character.
      I think this actor looksa bit too old for Shasta (18-ish rather than 14-ish) but as long as he works in the role, I have no real worries. Hope it’s great!

    • JFGII says:

      Also, Shasta lives in a dry southern area, so being tanned would make sense, even though a Calormen described him as “fair and white”. Lewis again.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      I have not seen the photo you're referring to, but wouldn't Shasta/Cor be pretty tan from living as a fisherman?

  3. hogglestock says:

    Not a great picture, but here's a photo that shows both of horses (and Douglas Gresham).

  4. Mack aka JesusAslanFreak! says:

    Looks awesome! My only problem is with some of the comments on this article which seem to imply that making Shasta "tan" would be problematic. So what if he was? So what if they made Shasta a black person? Sure, it would be different than the book, but frankly, the fact that the hero of the story is this fair-skinned, blond boy amongst a more cruel middle-eastern, brown-skinned people… even with Aravis being awesome… I find it to be problematic from a sociological analytical perspective. It doesn't make the book a racist piece of literature… but it is a problematic part of the book that, if abandoned in an adaptation, would actually be pretty cool as opposed to bad.

    That said, this kid seems cool as Shasta. I just wanted to push back against this idea that as Narnia fans we need our heroes to be white just because its in the book. We don't. To make Shasta non-white would be no different than Lewis back in the day making the very progressive decision to have Aravis be a middle-eastern, brown-skinned, strong-willed female protagonist. The more diverse Narnia is, the better!

    Further up and further in…

    • JFG II says:

      I’ve thought about what you suggested before. I agree. A dark Shasta would be cool, but it’s best to keep him lighter, because his skin tone is our only guide to where he originated from. Aravis should be very dark, being Southern, but the Northern Calormens can be lighter. I’ve talked extensively about that elsewhere. So I won’t burden you. (I’ve thought about Caspian being biracial too.) Shasta should be very tanned, to contrast with Corin, who is very pale I think. Breaks the stereotype that tan means your a rogue. 😉 I think new Narnia adaptations will not be C. S. Lewis’s Narnia exactly, but it can still be very faithful to Christian themes or story beats without bringing old stereotypes and prejudices with them. Narnia is meant to be a good place, but from a religious perspective. Diversity would be helpful to appeal to more people if used in the right places. 🙂

      • Mack aka JesusAslanFreak! says:

        JFG II, if we really wanted to change things, but stay true to book continuity. I say, make the Cabby and his wife (from the Magician's Nephew) black. The whole idea is that this oppressed, and humble couple who've been given very little in life (this is especially true for black people in early 1900s England) are made to be the King and Queen of a whole land. Their descendants become the humans who lived in Narnia before the White Witch committed genocide against them… and they become the humans who eventually inhabited Archenland. The only problem here is that if the Cabby MUST be black so that he can be more down-trodden and saved, there might be a sort of "white savior" problem there. Either way, King Frank is one of my favorite characters in that book and I wish in an adaptation they'd give him and Queen Helen more to do.
        The Calormen people I believe are descendants of a break away people from Telmar who of course came from Pirates. They, as you say, are not technically middle-eastern. But they have lived in a desert nation for thousands of years and fit a lot of those stareo-types.

        I think if you have the people from Archenland (and their culture) reflect an African nation, with African-type clothing, music, buildings, etc. and make Shasta a prince from those people… then the reason he stands out is that he has even darker skin than the Calormen people, with kinkier hair, etc. He is made fun of for it and stands out.

        Combine that with giving us more heroic Calormen people (and maybe even by showing, leading up to the battle between the northerners and Southerners) that there is an anti-Calormen prejudice amongst many Narnians than is almost eager for war (and that Aslan, Shasta, Aravis, etc.) must help them over-come (and Susan, the gentle… a passionate pacifist in the books, could be the biggest advocate for peace on both sides); I think not only are we eliminating the problematic elements from the story… but we are also addressing them within the story itself… while going deeper into the themes and elements Lewis already put there.

        As for the Last Battle, I like the idea of the Calormen people being descended from the Archenlanders and the Calormen people… but I think the rubbing dark oil on their skin will simply have to go. I think Blackface and the hurt it has caused many people of color is still too fresh in our spirit to not expect hurt to still come from such a story point. I think that part of the book can be suitably adapted by having them dress up in the Calormen armor and typical dress. At that point in Narnian history, Calormen could be a mix of skin colors (white, black, brown, etc.) there'd be no need for Tirian and the gang to darken their faces.

        However, I like your idea that maybe Aravis is a different skin color than Rabadash because they are different lines of ancestry within Calormen family lines. There wouldn't be a single skin color for them. I'm down with this idea as well.

      • JFG II says:

        Agree to most of what you’ve said, and I’ve thought of Frank & Helena as black British years ago. With regards to new films and shows, Now I feel sticking to the books with mostly European-descent actors is best. That includes Calormen characters who can be a hodgepodge of different backgrounds. Unless these streaming people change the names and culture of characters from the books, keeping Archenland more British and Calormen more Eastern is probably best, and just deal with the petty controversy – if there’s any at all. Narnia is not quite as well known as we fans wish. Especially when people can ignore it while streaming other films and shows.

    • Col Klink says:

      If Tirian were played by a black actor, similar to how the Calormenes were described in the book, that might be a nice way to make the book less offensive. But Shasta being a different ethnicity than the Calormenes is a plot point. It's what leads Anradin and Bree to guess that he's from the North. To make Shasta being black (or some other non-Caucasian ethnicity) work in an adaptation, they'd have to cast all the Calormenes as white. And the stereotype of people in hot landscapes being dark skinned is so pervasive that it would be obvious to people that they were just trying to cover their posteriors if they did that.

      Incidentally, Aravis is not "Middle Eastern." The Middle East is in our world and Calormen is in a fantasy world. So are Narnia and Archenland. That doesn't mean people shouldn't be allowed to criticize the books for being racist or insensitive. People should be allowed to criticize anything they want for any reason that strikes them. But just because Lewis used Middle Eastern stereotypes when describing Calormen doesn't mean it's supposed to represent a specific real world culture. Unless you can find evidence in Lewis' letters that he wrote The Horse and his Boy as a political allegory.

      • JFG II says:

        Col Klink, I have an idea for you to analyze:

        What if the Narnia adapters (film of stage) combined different elements from HHB & LB to create a Calormen country that fans and the public were not expecting? 😮

        In HHB, the Calormens are vaguely “dark” people: easily identifiable from “white” Northerners. But in LB, I think, the Calormens are described as descendants of renegade Archenlanders. Lewis… IDK.

        So what if the Calormens are more like Archenlanders than expected? That could work if there’s an explanation as to why they have Eastern-sounding names and such.

        Like say Aravis is a descendent of the Original Tizroc of Calormen who was dark like the Southerners, while Rabadash is much whiter and more European because his heritage is more Northern?

        Then when in LB Tirian uses a Calormen juice to darken his face and pass as a soldier, that could be established in HHB as something the Calormen noblemen do so as to not attract unwanted attention from the Calormen people… I’m just throwing out ideas at this point and hoping they make sense! 😉

      • Col Klink says:

        While I enjoy analyzing stories and story ideas generally, I'm actually doing a big literary analysis thing for my senior project right now and it's driving me crazy. So I'm afraid I don't have the energy to analyze your idea right. Sorry. Hope you weren't specifically interested in my take.

  5. Katelyn Snell says:

    My family went and saw it Opening Night this past Friday. It was amazing! The puppets look so real; and the puppeteers did a wonderful job making the movements as lifelike as possible. The entire audience was enthralled from beginning to end. If you have an opportunity to go, I highly recommend it!

  6. Col Klink says:

    So when are the Narniawebbers who attended this play going to review it? 🙂

    • hogglestock says:

      I'm going to leave it to the experts to do a proper review, but I thought it was very good. The horses were really well done, and I thought that the actors who played Shasta and Aravis were excellent as well. I really liked how they handled all the storytelling that happens–much of the action was shown on stage, but it still kept a "person telling a story" feel. They made some interesting decisions for how to handle some things in the second half, and I think some of those scenes worked better than others. Overall, I thought it was really good, and I'd like to go see it again after it's been running for a while.

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  1. March 5, 2019

    […] Gresham is in Taylors, SC this week promoting The Logos Theatre’s stage adaptation of The Horse and His Boy. […]