C.S. Lewis’ “Great Divorce” opens at CBU

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Chris Hardy -- John Meader and Michael Ring perform in C.S. Lewis’ “Great Divorce.”

Travel to Heaven and back this November through California Baptist University’s “The Great Divorce,” a play based C.S. Lewis’ novel.

In the play, the audience will gain an interesting view of Heaven, Hell and the price of each through the journey of a group of shadowy spirits from a place called “Grey Town,” symbolizing Hell, to the “Bright Country,” or Heaven.

The entire trip is seen and narrated by C.S. Lewis himself, who is played by Michael Ring. He is guided by an intelligent man named George MacDonald, who is played by Jonathan Meader.

Grace Robinson, the stage manager, summarized the plot, stating that the story follows spirits as they choose whether or not they want to stay in Heaven or go back on the bus that leads to Hell. The C.S. Lewis character watches from the sidelines.

The spirits have trouble deciding their fate because—in order to travel through the Bright Country to the Great Mountains, where they will truly be free—they must give up the things keeping them in Grey Town. Some examples are their fears, doubts and even seemingly good qualities. In the words of Director Frank Mihelick, the play illustrates how “everything that rivals God, we must divorce in our lives.”

The performance portrays this theme through the use of drama and humor, while leading the audi- ence on a journey through the eyes of Lewis to uncover new questions as he does.

Then, they reveal the answers to those questions and more through the guidance of MacDonald. It is a very theatrical experience, according to Mihelick, and would not be the same if viewed on television.

This is due to the fact that the  lay actually involves the audience by incorporating them into the performance itself. The audience is seen as other spirits visit Heaven, which gives an engaging spin on the original story from the novel.

“The Great Divorce” shows Nov. 11 and 18 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 12 and 19 at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for general admission and $10 for California Baptist University students.

Immediately after the play, there will be a 20 minute “talk back” with the cast and a C.S. Lewis expert to learn more on  the story and its meaning. On Nov. 12, the special guest was Professor Scott Key and on Nov. 19 Gayne Anacker, dean of college of arts and sciences is slated as the special guest.

“I hope it will be thought provoking and different,” Mihelick said.

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