30 November 2010

Invitation to the Anthony Lawton Festival, Philadelphia

I am pleased to “officially” invite you to attend an exciting festival of spiritual theatre performances by one of the interviewees in my “Where Are We Now” Series, Anthony Lawton. Please read the information below and consider attending one of these plays, especially The Great Divorce. I recommend that you peruse my review of Lawton’s Screwtape Letters, my interview with Lawton, and the descriptions of the plays, below: I have added my thoughts, descriptions, and recommendations to each official press-release précis at the end of this post. Please read these before deciding to attend.

Lantern Theater Company Presents
Between Heaven and Hell: The Anthony Lawton Festival
December 3 – 19, 2010

First-ever festival of the Philadelphia actor and playwright Anthony Lawton
features works
by C.S. Lewis, Shel Silverstein, and Lawton

This three-week festival marks the first time Philadelphia-based actor and playwright Anthony Lawton’s C.S. Lewis and Shel Silverstein adaptations and his original play have been presented in repertory. Consider this festival as an alternative to traditional holiday theater; it features works about spiritual life intended for secular or religious audiences and is a series of dazzling, virtuosic performances. “In the best tradition of one-man shows, Lawton … quickly makes us forget that he is only one man,” says The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Festival will be held at Lantern Theater Company, located at St. Stephen's Theater at 10th & Ludlow Streets in Philadelphia. Tickets are $25-$35; $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only; additional discounts are available for subscribers, seniors, and groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available online at or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (215) 829-0395      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

The festival will showcase Lawton in solo performances of three plays, opening with the critically acclaimed The Great Divorce (Dec. 3-19), C.S. Lewis' own favorite among his works.

The festival continues with The Devil and Billy Markham (Dec. 8, 11, and 15), written entirely in rhyming couplets by Shel Silverstein.

The last work is Lawton’s autobiographical play, Heresy (Dec. 14, 15, and 18).

Festival Performance Schedule
Friday, Dec. 3 at 8:00pm – The Great Divorce, Opening
Saturday, Dec. 4 at 8:00pm – The Great Divorce
Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2:00pm – The Great Divorce*
Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 7:00pm – The Devil and Billy Markham*
Thursday, Dec. 9 at 7:00pm – The Great Divorce
Friday, Dec. 10 at 8:00pm – The Great Divorce
Saturday, Dec. 11 at 8:00pm – The Great Divorce
Saturday, Dec. 11 at 10:30pm – The Devil and Billy Markham
Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2:00pm – The Great Divorce
Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 7:00 pm – Heresy*
Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 7:00pm – Heresy
Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 9:30pm – The Devil and Billy Markham
Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7:00pm – The Great Divorce
Friday, Dec. 17 at 8:00pm – The Great Divorce
Saturday, Dec. 18 at 8:00pm – The Great Divorce
Saturday, Dec. 18 at 10:30pm – Heresy
Sunday, Dec. 19 at 2:00pm – The Great Divorce, Closing

*Post-Show Discussion with Anthony Lawton, moderated by Lantern Associate Artistic Director Kathryn MacMillan

Here are further descriptions of the plays:

The Great Divorce
Based on the Novel by C.S. Lewis
Adapted and Performed by Anthony Lawton
Friday, December 3 – Sunday, December 19
C.S. Lewis' own favorite among his works, The Great Divorce tells the satirical and comic story of hapless professor Clive and the motley band of malcontents who join him on a very curious bus ride. Journeying between Heaven and Hell, Clive crosses a wildly inventive landscape filled with dazzling language and surprising insight. Note from IA: I have not seen this play, but I have talked to Tony about it and have reserved tickets for Sunday, Dec. 12th. I am sure that all readers of this blog would LOVE this play, and I heartily recommend it. Please go see it if you can!

The Devil and Billy Markham
By Shel Silverstein
Performed by Anthony Lawton
Wednesday, December 8; Saturday, December 11; Wednesday December 15
Written entirely in rhyming couplets and punctuated with blues and country music, this raucous and raunchy play follows songwriter, good ol' boy, and ne'er-do-well Billy and his betting misadventures with the Devil. This play includes themes of sacrifice and redemption and is unapologetically and joyously profane. Parental guidance advised for audience members under 17. Note by IA: I have not seen this play. I am sure it would be tons of fun. I just advise my readers to notice the word “raunchy” in the description and the advisory note; this might not be the top choice play for my typical readers.

Written and Performed by Anthony Lawton
Tuesday, December 14; Wednesday, December 15; Saturday, December 18
(press night: Dec. 14, 9:30 p.m.)
Heresy is a probing, comic, autobiographical solo play in which Lawton wrestles with the value of religion. Where is the line between faith and superstition? Why are so many Christians so un-Christian? What is the difference between faith that heals and faith that destroys? This play contains profanity, frank discussions of sex, and ideas that some may consider to be blasphemous. Children under 17 not admitted. Note by IA: I have not seen this play, but I have read it. It is extremely disturbing, graphic, and obscene; the warning description above is apt. None of the material is gratuitous, however; Lawton carefully crafted this play as both a public confession and a serious interrogation of the Christian (specifically, Catholic) religion. It is an honest, adult exploration of temptation, sin, degradation, perversion, doubt, identity, and love. So, if you have the guts for some vulgar content in service to serious questions, you might go see Heresy. If not, stick to The Great Divorce.

Running Time: All plays are approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

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