COVID-19 might have shuttered theatrical venues across the country, but Fellowship for Performing Arts is striving to make the most of this “found time.” As we wait for curtains once again to go up, we are working on new productions, revising existing works and exploring new avenues of presenting theatre from a Christian worldview to diverse audiences.
“The nationwide lockdown was a shock to everyone’s system,” said FPA Founder and Artistic Director Max McLean. “But once that temporary ‘new normal’ settled in, I found myself sleeping better. The creative juices began to flow. Our entire team rallied to find new ways to share our work now and prepare for the future.
“The work is different now. Some is preparatory. Some is innovative and new. But this disease, which has changed so much, has not changed our commitment to creating theatre from a Christian worldview.” — FPA Literary Manager Christa Scott-Reed
“I’ve been working quite some time on the sequel to C.S. Lewis On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert. This lockdown has allowed me to make significant progress.”
Work also continues on a new tour of Mark’s Gospel, one of FPA’s earliest productions and for which Max earned a Jeff Award, Chicago theatre’s highest accolade.
No one knows when theatres will reopen, but we’re working now to be ready to return to the road with our touring productions including C.S. Lewis On Stage, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters.
Fourth, FPA has begun work on a theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ Til We Have Faces, commissioning Chris Cragin-Day, who delivered Martin Luther on Trial.
“When the world opens again, we want to be ready with new work of the kind that FPA audiences expect and rely on,” said FPA Literary Manager Christa Scott-Reed, who directed the New York revival of The Great Divorce that toured in the spring. “These are shows that are entertaining, dramatically engaging and spiritually fulfilling.”
In addition to producing live events online during the lockdown, we also took steps in new directions. We prepared Max’s script of C.S. Lewis On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert for publication, and it is in the hands of a publisher now.
Among the most promising new directions is the initial treatment of a movie based on C.S. Lewis On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert. This goes beyond the DVD we offer now, which is a film of Max’s performance. We’re contracted with award-winning British director Norman Stone to create a feature film on location with multiple actors. Stone is a Christian, a Lewis fan and directed the BBC film Shadowlands starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. Stone has produced or directed more than 50 films and TV episodes.
“What I most want our friends, patrons and supporters to know is we are working daily to fulfill our mission,” Max said. “The work is different now. Some is preparatory. Some is innovative and new. But this disease, which has changed so much, has not changed our commitment to creating theatre from a Christian worldview.”
As a result of the virus, we have had to cancel 27 performances, multiple donor events and a vision trip to Israel. Ticket volume has gone from 2,000 per week in March to 0 every week since. Nearly half our income has vanished. We’re working hard to reschedule those performances. The lost ticket revenue means the support of our Fellowship Circle is more important than it has ever been.
Thank you for standing with us, for your generosity and for helping us to be ready to get on stage when theatres open again.
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