10/19/18 ASHLAND, Ohio – On Nov. 15, David Payne will be performing “An Evening with C.S. Lewis” at 7 p.m. in Myers Convocation Center on the Ashland University campus. The event, which is part of AU’s Faith and Society lecture series, is free and open to the public.
Titled “An Evening with C.S. Lewis (My Life’s Journey),” this drama production has proved to be an enthralling theatrical experience for the many thousands who have attended the more than 500 performances. Full of humor, it is a fascinating and enthralling insight into the life of a man who became a legend in his own lifetime. Indeed, it is a testimony to the ongoing visibility of this great British author that this production shows no sign of slowing down.
An Evening with C.S. Lewis begins with the year being 1963 and C.S. Lewis, the famous British author, is in the twilight years of his life and has agreed to give an informal talk to a group of American writers who are visiting England. They have come to Lewis’ home, just outside of Oxford, and are eagerly anticipating hearing the man whose books have brought him worldwide fame. They are not disappointed. Lewis is in great form and his audience is spellbound as, with a display of oratory and humor that made him one of England’s most famous public speakers, he recounts the significant events and the people that shaped his life. An Evening with C.S. Lewis takes you into the unique world of a man who lived a simple life in a modest house on the outskirts of the city of Oxford from where he wrote many best sellers including the famous Narnia Chronicles.
Payne’s first encounter with C.S. Lewis was when, as a teenager, he was given a copy of Lewis’ best-selling book, Screwtape Letters. Little did he realize that some 40 years later he would be gaining a reputation for his portrayals of its famous author. It all started with an audition notice in a theatrical production to be staged at Nashville’s prestigious Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in 1996 -- “Auditions for Shadowlands, British accents a help!”
Payne, who had never been on stage before but who did have a British accent, decided to audition hoping for a minor part. He staggered everybody including himself when he won the lead role of C.S. Lewis. The TPAC production sold out, Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham flew in for the opening night and director Sylvia Boyd said of Payne afterwards, “I took a chance on someone who had never acted before but was rewarded with a performance of great power and sensitivity – I felt we had found the real C.S. Lewis.”
During rehearsals for Shadowlands, Payne was given a copy of A Grief Observed, Lewis’ diary of grief following the death of his American wife, Joy. Captivated by the brutal honesty of a man bearing his soul, Payne memorized the whole book and then adapted it into a one-man show, Mist in the Mourning. Premiered at TPAC, where all three performances sold out, he then toured this production extensively throughout the U.S. Following these performances, Payne was very often peppered with lots of questions about C.S. Lewis. He was always very happy to answer these questions and then one day, a thought struck him -- “Wouldn’t it be fun if Lewis himself could answer these questions.” That’s when he wrote An Evening with C.S. Lewis, basing the show around the questions that people kept asking and the pivotal occurrences in Lewis’ life. It is now his flagship production.
This will be the fifth lecture in the Faith and Society Lecture Series, which is designed to give AU students the ability to hear experts discuss critical topics of faith and its implications in contemporary society. The Hilda Bretzlaff Foundation is the sponsor for the lecture series.
Those with questions regarding the event can contact Dr. Mark Hamilton, associate professor of philosophy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419.606.0197.
Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2018, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###