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Screwtape Letters on stage

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Screwtape Letters on stage

Postby Sven » 29 Mar 2008, 19:53

I just got our tickets to see The Screwtape Letters on stage at the Shakespeare Theater's Harman Center in downtown D. C. You can see a three minute video of clips and other details from the New York City run of the show here.


His Abysmal Sublimity proposes a toast
Image
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Screwtape Letters on stage

Postby Tuke » 01 Apr 2008, 23:22

Sven wrote:Shakespeare Theater's Harman Center in downtown D. C.
I'm not sure I'm familiar with the Harman Center. Is it a different address than the Folger Shakespeare Library? Is it independent from the Folger?
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Postby Sven » 01 Apr 2008, 23:36

The Harman Center used to just be called the Shakespeare Theater, it's located near Archives/Navy Memorial. It also used to be the theater company of the Folger, but it was spun off as an independent company back in the late 80s. Since that time, the Folger has built a new theater at the library, and put together another, smaller troupe to perform plays.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Location: Greenbelt, MD, near Washington DC

Postby CKinna » 16 Apr 2008, 16:15

I went to NYC in the fall to see this run and it was wonderful. I live in MD and have tickets to see it again in May. You will not be dissapointed.
What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring. - Brother Jack
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Postby Sven » 27 Apr 2008, 00:37

She and I went to the 4pm matinée today. Wonderful production, very minimalist, and an inspired thought on someone's part to expand the role of Toadpipe.

It opened with Screwtape Proposes a Toast, despite that being written 20 years after the Screwtape Letters proper. Bits were left out, most unfortunately the bit where Screwtape compliments the wine:


C. S. Lewis wrote:What is this I see? What is this delicious bouquet I inhale? Can it be? Mr.
Principal, I unsay all my hard words about the dinner. I see, and smell, that even under
wartime conditions the College cellar still has a few dozen of sound old vintage Pharisee.
Well, well, well. This is like old times. Hold it beneath your nostrils for a moment,
gentledevils. Hold it up to the light. Look at those fiery streaks that writhe and tangle in its
dark heart, as if they were contending. And so they are. You know how this wine is
blended? Different types of Pharisee have been harvested, trodden, and fermented
together to produce its subtle flavour. Types that were most antagonistic to one another on
Earth.
Some were all rules and relics and rosaries; others were all drab clothes, long faces, and
petty traditional abstinences from wine or cards or the theatre. Both had in common their
self-righteousness and the almost infinite distance between their actual outlook and
anything the Enemy really is or commands. The wickedness of other religions was the
really live doctrine in the religion of each; slander was its gospel and denigration its litany.
How they hated each other up there where the sun shone! How much more they hate each
other now that they are forever conjoined but not reconciled.
Their astonishment, their resentment, at the combination, the festering of their eternally
impenitent spite, passing into our spiritual digestion, will work like fire.
Dark fire. All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans
mean by “religion” ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins.
The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy.
Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.



Then, on to the Letters. Throughout, Toadpipe serves two purposes. First, she illustrates the humans that Screwtape is describing, such as the reader who sees the #73 bus, 'Seductive Women through the Ages', the 'prim little brute' of a Christian who saves the patient, etc. The other thing she does is give the standard Hellish reaction; disgust at the mention of "Love", barking at the idea of the Incarnation, etc.

There is quite a bit left out, especially in the later letters, but the main message gets across quite nicely. The actor playing Screwtape, Max McLean, is brilliant, funny, and spot on in his portrayal. Karen Wight, Toadpipe, is amazingly physical as she pantomimes her role.

When the patient is rescued and restored to the faith by his true love and her family, a single spotlight shines down, impaling Screwtape and Toadpipe, while a carillon plays A Mighty Fortress :lol: Towards the end, when the patient is killed, the stage is lit up blindingly by white light, while the carillon plays Amazing Grace.

They left out the '...inadvertently allowed myself to be transformed into a giant centipede...' from letter 22. Pity, that, I was looking forward to it...

Oh, a funny ad that was in the back of the program for the play:


Image
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Greenbelt, MD, near Washington DC

Postby Brian_Burgess » 01 May 2008, 18:24

I saw the Saturday, April 26th matinee in Washington DC and was very pleased with the performance. The role of Toadpipe was interpreted and acted out in a very interesting way though I was distracted from Screwtape's monologue on a few occasions.
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Postby Sven » 02 Sep 2008, 23:06

For anyone living in the Chicago area, I got an email from the Fellowship for the Performing Arts that the show is coming your way.


Performances begin Oct. 2

Performances: WED, THU & FRI 8:00, SAT 4:00 & 8:00, SUN 3:00
The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, Chicago
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Sven
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Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Greenbelt, MD, near Washington DC

Re: Screwtape Letters on stage

Postby Sven » 24 Feb 2009, 20:25

The show's Chicago run is starting its fifth month, held over repeatedly from its original planned six week run. Two new actors are taking the place of Mac McLean and Karen Wight.

A note at the end of the review of the play in this month's Christianity Today says that McLean and the playwright/director, Jeffrey Fiske, are looking at doing a stage version of Perelandra.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
User avatar
Sven
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Posts: 2873
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Greenbelt, MD, near Washington DC


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