David Payne, a London, England, native, got his start in theatre as the lead role in Shadowlands. Payne was chosen to portray author C.S. Lewis. Though he has received Lewis’ novel “The Screwtape Letters” for his birthday, Shadowlands spurred his interest into the life of the author.
His being chosen for Shadowlands came from his British accent, but also his uncanny likeness of Lewis.
During the Shadowlands run, he was given “A Grief Observed,” which he later turned into a one-man show titled, “Mist in the Mourning.” Payne was captivated by Lewis’ bearing of his soul.
“It is a great honor to play a character that is worth playing,” Payne said.
While on tour for “Mist in the Mourning,” Payne says that he was so bombarded with questions that he thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun if Lewis could answer these himself?” according to risingimage.com. From there, “An Evening with C.S. Lewis – My Life’s Journey” was born.
However, Payne has created many other works based off of Lewis’ life and Payne’s relationship with J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of “Lord of The Rings.” His often one-man performances included: “Target Practice,” “Weep for Joy,” “St. Jack and the Dragon,” and “Wardrobes and Rings.”
During “An Evening with C.S. Lewis,” the audience is greeted by a simple setup of a chair, a lamp and a table with a kettle and cup. “Lewis” takes the audience through his life including, but not limited to, his childhood, his friendship with Tolkien, his American wife Joy, the Chronicles and his conversion to Christianity.
Payne loves the ability to speak to the serious aspects of Lewis’ life as well as making the show entertaining and giving it some humor.
“When I first started the shows I didn’t know how long it would last, because I thought people would get tired of seeing it,” Payne said.
In over 500 performances, thousands have come to watch the portrayal and hear the life of such a prominent figure in literature.
Dr. Clifton Ganus III, chairman of the department of music, said the performance’s road to Harding was simple because they are on the agency’s list. He looks forward to having Payne come to Harding, and expects a good draw because the community is highly churched and aware of Lewis.
“People come to faith in so many different ways,” Ganus said. “Some are intellectually oriented, as was Lewis, some are emotionally oriented and some simply follow the trend of their society. I think to see Lewis’ viewpoint [through Payne] will be interesting.”
David Payne’s “An Evening with C.S. Lewis – My Life’s Journey” will be hosted by the Department of Music as a part of the Arts and Life Series on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 in the Administration Auditorium.