Ms. Lou Catania, the theatre department director, chose this play because “it is a great children’s story about good versus evil.”
But this choice has caused some controversy. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has well known religious symbolism, which has caused issues as public school’s are not supposed to be religiously affiliated.
“The removal of religion from school stems off of the ‘separation of church and state’ part of the Constitution,” said Principal Scott Lyons. “Since the state requires children under 16 to attend school, it can not force a set of beliefs on them.”
Kordell Draper, junior and part of the theatre department, can see how this separation is a good idea.
“It makes sense that we are not forced to believe in a certain religion. Because we have to be here [at school], teachers can tell us about different religions, but they should not tell us exactly what to believe,” said Draper.
“I would prefer not to have a Christian play this year, but that won’t stop me from being a part of it,” added Draper, an active member of his Jewish community.
Generally, however, the play choice has caused more excitement than controversy.
“I was thrilled when I found out we were doing The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” said Jenan Fatfat, “because I love this play, and I think it teaches a good lesson about imagination.”
“I never actually thought about all the Christian symbolism until it became an option for us to do this play,” said Draper, “but I have truly always loved the story.”
Catania was adamant about how it should not cause any problems.
“People can read whatever they want into any play. Being offended by The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is like being offended by The Wizard of Oz because you don’t like the symbolism,” added Catania.
Another way to look at it is taking a brief glance at the school curriculum. In 11th grade English, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller is assigned to read and examine. The Crucible is about the witchcraft scare with the Puritans in the 17th century. Religion is a reoccurring, obvious theme within the play. If this play is assigned in school to read, and it is obviously religious, there should not be any problem with a strictly symbolical religious play outside of school.
Also, no one, no students or parents, is required to participate in the play.
“If they are offended by the religious content, they can simply choose not to go see the play,” said Lyons.
At the end of the day, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a quality children’s tale about faith and trust– but not necessarily about religion.
The preview is on November 2, and the show is on November 3, 4 and 5.