Advent Christian Village (ACV) invites you to experience one of the world’s most famous modern-day authors — C.S. Lewis — portrayed expertly by actor David Payne. Payne, who has been playing Lewis for more than a decade, will be at The Village Church on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7:00 p.m., as part of the Live! at Dowling Park Artist Series. Lewis is the author of such famous works as The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters.
David Payne, who had never been on stage before, responded to an advertisement in 1996 that read “Auditions for Shadowlands, British accents a help!” for the theatrical production to be staged at Nashville’s prestigious Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Payne, who does have a British accent, decided to audition, hoping for a minor part. He staggered everyone (including himself) when he won the lead role of C.S. Lewis.
“I took a chance on someone who had never acted before,” said Shadowlands Director Sylvia Boyd, “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’s diary of grief following the death of his American wife, Joy (Gresham). 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 — which sold out all three Nashville performances. Payne then toured this production extensively throughout the United States.
Following these performances, Payne was very often peppered with questions about C.S. Lewis. He was always 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 Payne wrote An Evening with C.S. Lewis: My Life’s Journey, basing the show around the questions that people kept asking and the pivotal occurrences in Lewis’s life.
Besides Mist in the Mourning, Evening, and others, Payne penned Weep for Joy, which tells the story of how Lewis and Joy Gresham met; Target Practice, a musical inspired by Lewis’s Screwtape Letters; St Jack & The Dragon, a hilarious yet touching story about the relationship of Lewis and his adopted mother, Mrs. Moore; and Wardrobes & Rings, which centers on the very last meeting between Lewis and his great friend, J.R.R. Tolkien.
Lin Sexton of the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, California, said of Payne’s performance, “I was fortunate enough to have read every Lewis biography and studied Lewis — even got to go inside his home in his Oxford village. [David] got it all right and blended humor and drama, theology and biography, childhood and adulthood perfectly.”
Please join us at The Village Church on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7:00 p.m., for An Evening with C.S. Lewis: My Life’s Journey. Visit www.acvillage.net/artistseries or call (386) 658-5557 for more details. Tickets are available from the Village cashier (386-658-5343) and in Live Oak at both the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce and The Music Center. Season tickets are also available. Season ticket holders may also attend all North Florida Community College of Madison artist series and Community Concerts of Lake City performances at no extra charge.