Robin Gamble sends this update on Manchester's recent "the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" Cathedral event.
"In October Narnia came to Manchester Cathedral. We ran ‘school days’ mid week and an open visitor day on the Saturday. The school days were over-subscribed and there is a huge demand for them to be repeated. The Saturday exceeded all expectations. We were overwhelmed, not just by numbers but also by the enthusiasm. Hundreds of individuals, groups and families spent the whole day in the Cathedral. Most came, enjoyed and left, but over four hundred remained at the end of the day for our ‘Aslan Worship Event.’
So what did we actually do:
- We turned the building into Narnia. The entrance porch became a wardrobe (with fur coats); inside we had fir trees and lamp-post; Beaver Lodge and Mr Tumnus’s house; witches castle; and a re-construction of C. S. Lewis’s study; winter backdrops and stage set; original art work and huge flower displays.
- We turned the Cathedral Tower into Cair Paravel, ran a Narnia Cafe, showed clips of Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe cartoons and TV programmes on the big screen and had a ‘Lion Trail’ through the whole complex.
- There were lots of ‘arts and crafts’ things to do, along with face painting etc; and visits from key characters in costume.
- We were intent on ‘telling the story within the story’. This was done through four inter-active workshops. These re-created Lucy’s arrival in Narnia; the witches’ house; the great battle and the death of Aslan.
- The whole thing climaxed with the ‘Aslan Worship.’ Contemporary and cathedral music; live appearances from Aslan, White Witch and C. S. Lewis himself all combined with visuals and ‘preaching/story telling’ in a very atmospheric way to open the wardrobe on the key spiritual truths that are the heart of the book.
This was a great faith sharing opportunity in a soft fuzzy-edged invitational sort of way. Cathedrals and town centre churches form the perfect venues for Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They are great religious/public places, they are theatres, market places. They are big, beautiful and spacious with lots of hidden places, they are full of mystery, wear their history on their sleeves, are made out of great slabs of ageless stone. The film with all its buzz will come and go but the place of Narnia in our common cultural heart place will remain for many years. We are repeating the whole project for a week at the end of May 2006. Our experience encourages us to encourage others to create their own wardrobe!"
For more help contact Robin Gamble on 0161 438 2834