STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 04/22/2014

Hell On Stage

The imperfections of the human soul provided C. S. Lewis plenty of fodder for The Screwtape Letters, a humorous novel written as a series of letters from Screwtape, a senior tempter in Hell,
to the junior tempter Wormwood.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death, faculty members Norm Jones (theatre arts) and Mark Stevick (English) staged a production of The Screwtape Letters last fall in the Margaret Jensen Theatre of the Barrington Center for the Arts. Stevick’s script integrated The Screwtape Letters with two other Lewis works: The Great Divorce and Poems. Jones directed the 80-minute cosmic (and often comic) tour of the battlefields where the struggle for souls is waged.

The production featured 17 student actors. Portraying demons was a challenging imaginative exercise.

Sarah Hand ’14 played the apprentice tempter Wormwood. “The terrifying thing was that it actually didn’t feel very different—I felt the same sinful, self-centered urges as Wormwood that I feel as myself,” she recalls. “The difference, though, was that as Wormwood, I was inseparable from those urges. Without God to mediate them, without the presence of goodness or love, those urges consumed me; they were me. As an actress, my technique is based in intention: pursuing what my character wants. As Wormwood, what went on in my imagination was a completely and horrifyingly uninhibited sense of desire.”