Many C.S. Lewis fans are familiar with the author’s popular ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ saga, a sprawling fantasy epic that chronicles (sorry) a journey of four kids and their adventures in the fantasy world of Narnia during World War II.
What most Lewis fans may not be familiar with is the author’s personal saga— one with Christianity.
‘C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert’ will debut in Santa Monica this week, July 11 at the Broad Stage. The play runs until July 22. The play has toured in New York, San Francisco and has plans to eventually appear in Southeast Asia. This will be the play’s first time in the LA area.
Max McLean, an actor and founder/artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts — a New York City-based nonprofit production company that creates Christian-tinged entertainment — will portray the author in a play that’s adapted from Lewis’ own personal writings.
The 70-minute-long-or-so play is a half-sketch, half-one-man-performance that tells the story of Lewis’ evolution from atheist to theist. McLean says the play came about due to being enamored with Lewis and his story of conversion.
“[Lewis] was once asked if he was frightened during World War I,” McLean said in a phone call with the Daily Press. “He responded that he was frightened, but never sank so low as to pray. That’s where he was.”
A Christian-convert himself, McLean developed the play after previously adapting the author’s other works, ‘The Screwtape Letters’ and ‘The Great Divorce.’ McLean’s experiences with the two works — the former being a religious satire, the latter an allegorical tale dealing with theological questions — encouraged him to take a closer look at Lewis’ conversion story from the author’s autobiography and letters.
McLean’s play begins at a pre-Narnia point in Lewis’ life, picking up right after his mother’s death. ‘C.S. Lewis Onstage’ will feature pivotal moments in the author’s life including his friendship with Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, his thoughts of God as a “transcendental interferer” to full acceptance of God while riding on a motorcycle.
“It’s this constellation of ideas that leads a vigorous debunker to complete acceptance that Jesus is the son of God,” McLean said. “[Lewis] was a vigorous debunker of Christianity, similar to Christopher Hitchens and he had the same gifts as Hitchens. To have someone like that become one of the most influential Christian writers this century is a pretty big deal.”
C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert runs at the Broad Stage July 11 – 22. For more information, including ticket prices, visit CSLewisonStage.com or call 866-811-4111.