“The Light Princess” Flies High in Readers’ Theatre

Reported by Jen Wright

George MacDonald’s classic short story “The Light Princess” was performed as a readers’ theatre piece by George Fox University (GFU) professor Gary Tandy’s Advanced British Literature class on Nov. 2 in Woodmar Auditorium.

About 35 people showed up to watch the class perform, including several children.

“When I saw some of the smaller kids, I got a little nervous ‘cause it’s a pretty advanced play. It’s not really designed for little children, but I think older kids can enjoy it, and I think a few of them did,” Tandy said.

The production was a class assignment and provided a break from typical class projects.

“It was slightly awkward, but it was fun,” Sam Kussat said. “It was nice to do something different and not the same stuff over and over again.”

Kussat enjoyed working with the rest of the class to put together the reading.

“It was nice to have everyone pick their parts and [see] how they went with them, and how they acted out the lines,” Kussat said.

Tandy said Jordan Lockwood was the most enthusiastic in the class to perform, while some were not looking forward to having an audience.

Tandy usually teaches the class with a focus on C.S. Lewis, but incorporates George MacDonald, Charles Williams and J.R.R. Tolkein.

“[MacDonald is] one of the original fantasy writers, and I know a lot of college-age students love fantasy these days,” Tandy said.

Tandy came up with the idea to do the story as a readers’ theatre while writing the syllabus for the class during the summer.

“I thought, ‘well, this might be a fun way to interact with the literature in a little different way’, rather than just reading and analyzing in class, to actually kind of perform the literature,” Tandy said.

It took some arm-twisting, Tandy said, but the whole class went along with it.

“We aren’t actors, really. Most of us in the class are English majors. I knew probably putting on a full-scale production would be a little much, and I thought the readers’ theatre would be easy,” Tandy said.

Tandy got help from Hope Bellinger, a theatre and directing major, in organizing the performance.

“She helped some of the students who weren’t as excited about performing to feel a little better,” Tandy said.

Bellinger helped the students think about their characters from different angles, to think about what their character wanted and to think about conflicts between characters.

“All of that is really important, of course, when you’re analyzing literature. So I think there were some indirect benefits to doing it as well,” Tandy said.

“I could tell that there was a different level of engagement in the class, and when Hope was working with us on some of the theatrical things, I think I learned a lot, but I think the students did as well,” Tandy said.

The story of “The Light Princess” can be found in MacDonald’s book “Adela Cathcart.”

Jessica DaughertyComment