Theater and religion don’t always cohere perfectly in today’s artistic realm, and spiritual experiences aren’t usually associated with watching a play. That’s why one theater company is inviting audiences back into the wardrobe, not only to revisit a childhood fantasy, but for a reunion of theater and spirituality as well.
Zion Theatre Company, a Utah-based organization dedicated to producing plays of high moral standard, is holding a “C. S. Lewis Theatre Festival,” featuring two plays about C. S. Lewis’s life and prominent work. The festival includes Joseph Robinette’s adaptation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” as well as “Swallow the Sun” by Mahonri Stewart.
Stewart, the founder of Zion Theatre Company, has a passion for C. S. Lewis and has wanted to produce the festival for quite some time.
Since Stewart was young, he loved C. S. Lewis’ works and eventually started researching his life. “Swallow the Sun,” a play about C. S. Lewis’ early life and conversion to Christianity from atheism, was a result of that love and research.
“(The play) highlights one person’s journey from lack of belief to believing, a journey which everyone goes through in one way or another,” said G. Randall King, director of “Swallow the Sun.” “The world says to us that you can’t be an intellectual and a believer, but C. S. Lewis proved otherwise.”
Along with “Swallow the Sun,” audiences of all ages have the opportunity to see, possibly C. S. Lewis’ most recognizable work, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
Rebecca Minson, director and the part of the White Witch, said she feels overwhelmed and excited at the chance to direct such a well-known and loved production. She had asked Stewart about directing before but was shocked when he asked her about this one.
“I didn’t expect Narnia,” she said. “It’s so near and dear to so many peoples’ hearts, it was a little daunting.”
Minson described the play as having a “child-like heart,” but emphasized that it’s not just for kids. The story has a deep-rooted spirituality that has something to offer kids and adults alike.
“Theater can be something that speaks to us morally and spiritually,” Stewart said. “Theater has a bad reputation, but we are trying to go against the grain. Religion and theater weren’t always at odds with each other — they were married.”
“Swallow the Sun” is showing at the Castle Theater in Provo Aug. 24, 25, 27 and 31 and Sept. 1, 3, 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is currently being performed at the Off Broadway Theater in Salt Lake and will play at the Castle Theater in Provo Oct. 5, 6, 8, 12, 13 and 15 at 7:30 p.m.
For tickets and more information go to ziontheatrecompany.com