Historically, Northwestern College has been known as a pretty safe place to take refuge from dragons. They tend to struggle in liberal arts classes, and even Zwemer tower is a little too short for the impressive landings they crave. But for the past four weeks, the NW theatre department has been quietly bringing a dragon to life.
“Princess Amanda and the Dragon” is a new adaptation of four stories from the Tales of the Kingdom books by David and Karen Mains. Last year’s play “Tales of the Kingdom” introduced audiences to the world of Great Park and the lives of several characters therein. This year’s sequel—also adapted by Hannah Barker Nickolay (’13)—travels even deeper into Great Park. This time, Great Park is more dangerous.
“It’s a little bit of the darker side of Great Park,” director Karen Barker said. “Here’s what happens when you love a forbidden thing. It’s not ‘darker darker,’ but it’s definitely darker than last year’s [show].”
The stories follow adventures in the lives of two characters—a boy named Hero and Princess Amanda. Both characters find themselves in the midst of fear, courage, growth, and discovery.
Both characters find themselves in the midst of fear, courage, growth, and discovery. The characters were featured in last year’s “Tales of the Kingdom” as well, but the ensemble says you don’t need to have seen last year’s to enjoy this show.
“It’s self-contained,” Barker said. “We have a prologue that gives background info. If you saw last year’s, it’ll be more meaningful, but you don’t have to have seen it.”
The Tales of the Kingdom stories are fantasy-based allegories with a Christian kingdom message. Enchanted City is where the Enchanter lives, a place where darkness and evil are prevalent. The people who believe in the King must be quiet about it.
“There is no such thing as a king,” say the authorities of Enchanted City. “Death to pretenders!” But the King is alive and he rules in Great Park.
Junior Caroline Trewet is the only one of the ensemble to have acted in both shows. “The very first time we sat down with Karen about what she wanted this show to look like, she said, ‘This story is important for us as a kingdom, for the Christian community here,’” Trewet said. “There is a lot of truth in this story.”
Junior Logan Wright plays Princess Amanda, and says working on this show has helped her see the King working in her own life.
“One thing I’ve learned through the process of playing Princess Amanda is how much I’m like her,” Wright said. “How I’ve felt lost like Amanda has and coming back…and serving the King. Amanda comes back and realizes she’s supposed to be where she is, and it’s okay.”
Supporting the truth of these stories is a strong design concept. The costumes, set design, sound design and lighting design create a visible fantasy world on the stage—including fire, a storm and a lush forest. There’s also plenty of stage combat.
“There’s so much fight choreography,” said Trewet. “And combat battles!”
“Princess Amanda and the Dragon” will be performed for over 3,500 area school children on Tuesdays and Thursdays through November. Public performances are Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. in the Keith Allen Black Box Theatre. Tickets are free for students.