Some 30 years following the death of author C.S. Lewis, British actor David Payne won the lead role in “Shadowlands,” the 1993 British biographical film about the love relationship between the Oxford academic, Lewis, and American poet Joy Gresham, at the prestigious Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
Payne’s interest in Lewis was ignited. He began studying Lewis and his writings in much detail and adapted his first one-man play from the book “A Grief Observed,” the diary of grief Lewis kept in the first few months after Gresham’s death.
Payne memorized the entire book in preparation for his play, titled “Mist in the Mourning.” Such was the power of his performance that he received a glowing commendation from Douglas Gresham, one of two of Lewis’ stepsons who had shared in his grief.
Invariably after each performance, several audience members would stay behind to ask questions about Lewis, his life, his writings, his contemporaries and his friends, particularly J. R. R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbitt” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
After one such question-and-answer session it occurred to Payne, who bears a striking resemblance to Lewis, that it would be really interesting if Lewis was there to answer the questions himself. Thus was born “An Evening with C.S. Lewis,” which has become Payne’s most popular play.
Payne’s “An Evening with C.S. Lewis” tour will come to Bristol’s Paramount Center for the Arts on Sunday, Nov. 3. Show time is 7 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $29 to $44.
The play is set in the year 1963 and Lewis, the now-famous British author, is in the twilight years of his life. Lewis is in his element as he hosts a group of American writers at his home just outside of Oxford, telling them the stories of his associations, his writing, his family, his faith and his great love.
For more information on “An Evening with C.S. Lewis” or to order tickets, visit www.theparamountcenter.com or call (423) 274-8920.