This archived article was written by: Kellie Henderson
With the recent big-screen release of “The Chronicle of Narnia,” many are now familiar with the work of C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian scholars and writers on the 20th century. Along with the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of children’s fiction that served as an allegory of the life of Christ and the emergence of Christianity, Lewis also released several books expounding on Christian principles such as “The Great Divorce,” “Mere Christianity,” “The Screwtape Letters,” and others.
A tale of equally great merit, however, is found in Lewis’s life story, depicted in “Shadowlands,” the College of Eastern Utah’s first winter theatre feature.
“Shadowlands” follows the story between Lewis and Joy Gresham, an American poet, and her son Douglas. Lewis met Gresham later in life and was taken by her quick wit and found their friendship developing into love and they were later married. Unfortunately, Gresham had developed terminal bone cancer and their marriage was very brief.
Corey Ewan, Ph.D., theatre instructor and director of “Shadowlands,” comments, “It was a great turning point for C.S. Lewis in that time … It actually helped strengthen his Christian beliefs even though he went through a period of questioning … ‘Well if God loves us, why does He allow us to suffer?’ And by going through those things he was able to learn.”
Not only does Lewis struggle with his own pain, he must help Douglas through the loss of his mother- “There is this parallel between Douglas and Lewis and how they both dealt with the grief. When C.S. Lewis was younger his mother died about the same age Douglas is now.” Ewan explains.
To intensify the effect of “Shadowlands” on the audience, seats are placed literally on the stage, three-quarters around the acting arena. The cast has a smaller acting space, but such close proximity allows a new level of involvement with the audience.
The theatre department has taken on yet another challenge as Ewan discloses, “This is the shortest rehearsal we’ve had for a play since I’ve been here – they will have 14 rehearsals. Ordinarily we’d have at least another week, week and a half – we don’t have that. We blocked the show in three nights and now we’re just working the devil out of it, but it’s really quick.”
For Ewan, acting allows him to be creative and interact with the student body at CEU. He describes theatre as an addiction, and explains, “I love to see what happens when the actors make their discoveries and they learn things and are successful at what they do. For me it’s just exciting to see when they get it and when the audience come in and then they get it.”
“Shadowlands” will be running Jan. 24- 29 with no show on Sunday. Admission is $2 for CEU students, $5 for senior citizens and Carbon High students, and $3 for faculty. The cast will also take “Shadowlands” to Utah Theater Association at BYU on Jan. 31 through Feb. 2.
The cast of “Shadowlands” includes Daniel Thompson as C.S … . Lewis (Jack), Elizabeth Miller as Joy Gresham, Dale Flink as Major Warnie Lewis, Michael Rohde as Christopher Riley, Sam Bailey as Rev. Harrington, Jefferson Beatty as Douglas Gresham, Kiefer Burke as Allen Gregg and Andrew Barrus as Dr. Maurice Oakley. The cast also includes: Karen Salazar, Anita Cunningham, Keaton Law and Jeff Kay.