BWW Interview: Director Max McLean Bares His Soul on Spiritual Warfare in C.S. Lewis' THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS at BJCC CONCERT HALL
The battle of spiritual warfare is old as life itself. We naturally perceive this conflict between good and evil as humans. In The Screwtape Letters, acclaimed author C.S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardobe) gives a comically satirical look into what spiritual warfare looks like from the other side. This Saturday night the BJCC will be host to a one night only performance the touring production of The Screwtape Letters adapted by Fellowship for Performing Arts from New York.
The Screwtape Letters is a religious satire that entertains the spirit. Screwtape (Brent Harris) isa senior tempter in Hell. While scheming to capture the soul of an unsuspecting human on earth, the satirical reveal of spiritual warfare in shown in vivid light but with a comedic edge.
Max McLean is president artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts. They have a long history of producing theatre from a Christian worldview to engage a diverse audience. McLean shares insight with me into this ten year running production and his passion for blending faith and the arts.
David Perry - "What drew you into telling this long-standing tale of spiritual warfare?"
Max McLean - "Our mission at Fellowship for Performing Arts is creating theatre from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience. C.S. Lewis is regarded as one of the most talented writers of the past century. Adapting his work for the stage seemed a natural fit for FPA. This novel pulls the covers back on spiritual warfare. Communicating the heart of the Christian faith to any and all comers is always an intriguing subject. We're pleased to carry on communicating something important to Lewis and fitting our mission."
DP - "Was developing this performance an easy process to get into, if not what were some challenges?"
MM - "Putting yourself in a demon's mindset, whether as a writer, adaptor or actor, is a challenge. I like what Lewis said in his introduction to the book: "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."
DP - "Does C.S. Lewis bridge any similarities from The Screwtape Letters to his other creation, the world of Narnia?"
MM - "That's a very interesting question. The Screwtape Letters was published in 1942, well before the first Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But I think the two do share something. Lewis was asked why he spent time on children's stories, and he replied that such stories can help "steal past watchful dragons" of cynicism. In the same way for adults, Screwtape creates a humorous, topsy-turvy, morally inverted universe where God is "the enemy" and Satan is "Our Father Below." It's an entertaining way to get us thinking about the very serious subject of spiritual warfare."
DP - "What do you enjoy the most about running your production of The Screwtape Letters for so long and why?"
MM - "The acting of Brent Harris as Screwtape and Karen Eleanor Wight as his assistant Toadpipe is a tour-de-force, and I never grow tired of watching it. Plus, I know these professionals are bringing C.S. Lewis' unique insight to life for an audience, many of whom have never experienced anything like it. The dean of American theatre Harold Clurman once said, "Get them laughing, and while their mouths are open, pour truth in." The Screwtape Letters does that as well and as enjoyably as any work I know. Finally, I really value the after-show talk-back sessions with the audience."
DP - "Why should people come out to enjoy The Screwtape Letters?"
MM - "Any time that you can spend with a C.S. Lewis work should be taken advantage of. Add to that a wonderfully theatrical event with outstanding actors and dazzling stage craft that engages, challenges and entertains, and you've got a great way to invest 90 ninety minutes."
The Screwtape Letters
Brent Harris - Screwtape
Tamala Bakkensen - Toadpipe (at selected performances)
Anna Reichert - Toadpipe (at selected performances)
Karen Eleanor Wight - Toadpipe (at selected performances)
The BJCC Concert Hall
2100 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Saturday, February 8th
Link to info and tickets HERE
Run Time: 90 minutes; no intermission.
Recommended for ages 13 and older.
Children under age 4 not admitted.
Please don't be evil to all the others in the audience and those on stage. Always arrive at least 30 min before any show. Nobody wants to get up, move out of your way, and have his or her experience ruined.