It seems NarniaFans.com catches up with or reports on the stage production of The Screwtape Letters that was adapted by Max McLean at least every two years. I had the honor of taking charge of the task this time around and caught up with him by phone last week. Below are some highlights of that conversation from my All About Jack: A C.S. Lewis Podcast site. If you want to hear the complete interview just follow this link.
As you may recall, The Screwtape Letters presents the viewpoint of a demon in hell who is trying help his nephew with corrupting a human on earth. If you are unfamiliar with the book, or want a useful reminder of the material consider checking out my special introduction to The Screwtape Letters from my other blog. Keep up with all my work related to C.S. Lewis by visiting EssentialCSLewis.com.
The following are the next few cities you can catch the play:
- Colorado Springs – Saturday, April 27th
- Sacramento, CA – Saturday, May 4th
- Minneapolis – Friday & Saturday, May 10th & 11th
- Indianapolis – Saturday, June 1st
Get all the details for those cities, along with the information about future cities where you can see The Screwtape Letters by visiting the official site: ScrewtapeOnStage.com
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O’Flaherty: Let’s start with adapting The Screwtape Letters for the stage when did you come up with the idea?
McLean: A professor from Madison New Jersey saw my earlier work and liked it very much and a few weeks later he sent me an e-mail telling how much he appreciate the work and also suggested that I would make a really good Screwtape!
O’Flaherty: What was some of the process and challenges of adapting it?
McLean: Lewis never intended it for the theatre, so it doesn’t have a traditional theatrical arc (which was a challenge) and then, of course, we had secure the rights from the Lewis Estate. After this it was a period of trial and error we came up with a theatrical storyline that actually is in the book and followed that really closely so that we could engage an audience theatrically.
O’Flaherty: Has there been many changes over the years, obviously the story hasn’t changed, but what about adjustments to the presentation?
McLean: The first production back in 2006 wasn’t where it should have been…we didn’t use Toadpipe properly or the design elements properly and the script was a little too dense. We went back to the drawing board, raise more money, brought in a really crackerjack design team to help us with the physical production and really honed in on the script…where about 98% of the words are directly from the book. We brought out a hidden story arc from the book that is useful as theater and that is essentially a hunt story; where Screwtape is the predator and the patient is the prey…the object of Screwtape’s desires.
O’Flaherty: I read comments about you saying people from a variety of religious backgrounds or even no religious background has expressed enjoying the play; what’s been said or why is this so?
McLean: We play traditional performing arts venues, we were in New York for nine months at a traditional off-Broadway…we position ourselves as a mainstream theatrical event and so we assume and it does happen that a diverse audience comes…so the kinds of responses that we get is almost everybody enjoys it because it’s a fun theatrical experience that is provocative, very funny, and very thoughtful.
Again, hear the compete interview at this link.