Christian theater done right

I had the pleasure earlier this year of meeting Max McLean, founder of the Fellowship for Performing Arts. Some Christians know him as the voice behind The Listener’s Bible. I appreciate his work as an interpreter of Scripture, but the truth is, I’m more of a reader, so I don’t spend much time having the Bible read to me.

I am, however, really intrigued by McLean’s Fellowship for Performing Arts, which produces high-quality stage plays with Christian themes. So far, the group has staged plays based on two C.S. Lewis books, The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. The next production will be Martin Luther on Trial.

The quality bar for entertainment is very high,” McLean says. “When you associate the name ‘Christian’ with it, the bar is higher still. Excellence in all elements of production is the way the message we want to articulate can get a fair hearing in the cultural marketplace.”

McLean studied acting in London, and it was during his student days that he wondered why theater isn’t being produced from a Christian worldview that’s on a par with the best of what is being produced in London and New York. He had early successes with dramatic presentations of Genesis and The Gospel of Mark, and this led him to try more ambitious productions.

My wife and I, along with six other friends, saw The Great Divorce in its debut last year in Phoenix, and we were blown away. The book and play explore the premise that residents of hell are given a chance to visit heaven with the opportunity to stay if they’d like. Sadly, most of them choose to hold on to themselves and the way of life they know rather than trade it for something far more joyous. The play, like the book by Lewis, is thoughtful and extremely well done.

Click here to see whether The Great Divorce is coming your way. And by all means, if you have the chance to see it, go. Whether you’re Christian or not, you’ll find the play to be both thought-provoking and entertaining.

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