C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Screwtape Letters’ coming to Birmingham in February

By Tracy Riggs
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

C.S. Lewis’ classic work on temptation and spiritual warfare “The Screwtape Letters” is coming to Birmingham on
Feb. 8.

Many Christians have heard of Lewis’ tale of a senior demon named Screwtape, who writes a series of letters to his nephew, Wormwood, a less experienced demon. 

In a series of 31 letters Screwtape guides Wormwood in how to tempt his charge, known as “the patient,” into various sins so he will turn away from Christ.  

“The play explores spiritual warfare from a demon’s point of view through an imaginative theatrical experience that is not pedantic or preachy,” said Max McLean, founder and artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts (FPA), the New York-based production company bringing the story to life. “At the same time the play reminds us that ‘He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).”

‘Faithful adaptation’

Lewis published “The Screwtape Letters” in 1942. He conceived the idea for the novel after listening to a BBC Radio broadcast of Adolph Hitler addressing German legislators at the Reichstag in 1940. 

Of the speech, which was translated into English during the broadcast, Lewis wrote: “I don’t know if I’m weaker than other people, but it is a positive revelation to me how while the speech lasts, it is impossible not to waver just a little. … Statements which I know to be untrue all but convince me … if only the man says them unflinchingly.” 

The story wasn’t developed into a play until 2005. 

FPA, which produces theater from a Christian worldview, received permission for the adaptation from the C.S. Lewis estate, and McLean wrote the script. 

The stage version is a faithful adaptation of the novel, he said. 

Brent Harris, who previously played Scar in the national tour of “Disney’s The Lion King,” plays Screwtape.

Since its first run, “The Screwtape Letters” has been performed in New York, London and dozens of other cities. 

The Birmingham production will be held in the concert hall of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). 

Ticket information is available at ticketmaster.com. Information on special rates for groups and those under 30 years old is available at fpatheatre.com/#tickets.

Other plays

FPA is touring two other plays based on Lewis’ work: “The Great Divorce” and “C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert.” More information about FPA is available at fpatheatre.com.