Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Thanks to Disney’s recent adaptation of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” many are now familiar with C.S. Lewis as the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Less familiar to modern audiences is his popular novel, “The Screwtape Letters,” a look at religion from the *other* other side. The one-man show adaptation of the novel, “Screwtape in Person,” will be performed this Thursday, October 26th, at 7:30 p.m. in Upper Tarble.
Written and performed by Tom Key, who has received attention for success in original performances such as “The Cottonpatch Gospel,” a look at the Gospel as set in 1936 Georgia, and for his work with the Theatrical Outlet of Atlanta, “Screwtape in Person” is being sponsored by both the religion and theater department as a unique opportunity to observe the interaction of the two disciplines. Though theater and religion have long had cultural and historical ties, the link between the two is often overlooked in modern theater and contemporary Christianity, making “Screwtape in Person” an especially noteworthy piece.
“The Screwtape Letters,” the novel on which Key’s piece is based, is actually made up of the letters written by Screwtape, a devil, to his nephew and fellow devil, Wormwood, regarding how to properly tempt Wormwood’s human, referred to as his “patient.” “Screwtape in Person” investigates the perspective of multiple characters as Lewis’ original themes and language provoke questions regarding the nature of spirituality and temptation.
Nathaniel Peters ’07 of the Swarthmore Christian Fellowship, which initiated the idea of inviting Key to perform the piece at Swarthmore after its success a few years prior, observes, “People are very used to reading spiritual books of any religion from the side of good, but C.S. Lewis chose to write from the other side.” This performance is one of the many events SCF hopes to see encouraging the discussion of Christianity on campus. Also on the horizon are a presentation by a Cambridge chemist regarding the relationship between science and religion and community-based panel discussions on topics of spirituality and life philosophy.
The performance is expected to last about an hour and students will have the opportunity to speak with Key after the show regarding both the content and presentation of his performance. At that time, free literature on C.S. Lewis, including an abridged “Screwtape Letters” will also be available to students.