Sunday, November 13, 2016

Abandoned or in Abeyance? (Another Tolkien/Lewis project)

So, while trying to find out more about the Tolkien/Lewis film that I saw at the Milw. Film Festival, I came across mention online of a play about the two men's friendship. Most of what I could find out about it dated to two years back, and I've not been able to find out if the project is still in the works or has drifted off into the last of might-have-beens; I'll give an update if I do find out more.

First, here's the link to the Indiegogo pitch, during which they raised just over $3500, which had been their goal to fund the drafting and development of the play. I'm curious if anyone who backed this project got a copy of the play (the reward for the $75 donation) or the Tolkien/Lewis timeline he compiled (what he called his 'eReseach' and was offering to share at the $250 level).

Next, there's this piece from the Tolkien Library site, which includes an interview with Reed about the project.

Finally, there's this piece from a local (Vancouver-area) source

Putting all three of these together, we learn that the playwright is Ron Reed, who's associated with the Pacific Theatre in Vancouver and has performed in their production of FREUD'S LAST SESSION (he played Freud) as well as elsewhere playing CSL in SHADOWLANDS; he's also in the past written a play about Geo. MacDonald (A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR)

Reed was attracted to the idea of telling the story of Tolkien's friendship with Lewis by the idea that by day Tolkien was the most boring lecturer in the most boring subject at Oxford,*  while by night he was creating what became a a seminal work of great modern literature.

The idea, at least at one point, was for the play to focus on Tolkien & Lewis's friendship: starting when they first met, Tolkien's role in Lewis's conversion (or more properly I suppose re-conversion), Lewis's encouragement of Tolkien's works,** and their drifting apart over differing opinions of each other's works and CSL's marriage with Joy Gresham.

Reed is to be the playwright, while someone named Shauna Johannesen was to be the project's 'dramaturg', which as described by them seems to be roughly what at TSR we called "editing" and which in other contexts I've seen called "development": taking a complete draft and turning it into a polished publishable piece.

The only other interesting detail I could glean was that David Downing was apparently involved in the project in some way, since an autographed copy of his book was being offered as the reward for one of the higher levels of donation in its Indiegogo pitch.

My main questions, after reading what these various websites had to say, are
(1) how far did this project get? Is the a finished play (polished or unpolished)?
(2) if a script does exist, is there any way to get a copy, now that the Ingiegogo pitch has expired?
(3) also, did any of the backers of that pitch see the T/L Chronology? It sounds like a really useful research tool in and of itself?
(4) finally, is this project still in the works, or has it expired and quietly been put aside? I suspect the latter, given that the most recent mention I cd find of it dated back about a year and a half -- but you never know, so if anyone with more information out there is willing to share, I'd be interested in learning more about the current status of this project.

--John R.
current reading: THE GOLD VOLCANO by Jules Verne (posthumous publ.)

*I suspect some, such as Tom Shippey, would object strongly and eloquently to that characterization.

**by which I suppose they mean Lewis being hurt over Tolkien's dislike of Narnia.

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