Ron Reed has crafted a powerful play focused on the relationship between two of the 20th century’s most influential writers.
Tolkien is the play’s name, but it could have been Tolkien-Lewis (apart from awkwardness) because so much of it is based on the friendship between J.R.R. (Ronald) Tolkien and C.S. (Jack) Lewis, which flowered in the 1930s, produced fruit over several decades and finally waned during and after the Second World War.
I don’t know whether Tolkien should be considered a celebration or a tragedy (ignoring any formal dramatic implications of that term, of which I am ignorant).
It was quite thrilling to observe how Lewis came to understand Tolkien’s immersion in Northernness (Norse sagas, Beowulf, Old English . . .), and to recall his own youthful fascination with similar realms. He encouraged Tolkien to press on with his nascent Middle-earth – and drew inspiration from Tolkien’s created world as he began his Narnia series. They shared so much else – their scholarly pursuits, love of learning, sharing that learning with friends, an understanding that God created us to create . . .
The tragic story is that of two friends gradually becoming estranged. Neither one, apparently, was as articulate or adept at interpersonal relations as he was on the written page. Jack was the more pliable of the two, and the most willing to draw others into their circle. That seems to have led to some hurt on Tolkien’s part, as he clearly preferred a closely-knit, like-minded atmosphere.
There’s my introduction. Here is the beginning of Lincoln Kaye’s review for Vancouver Observer – whether you finish my comment or not, I highly recommend you read his excellent piece:
In a hole in the ground there lived a sextet of literary boffins. Not a nasty, blood-drenched World War I foxhole, nor yet a World War II bomb crater. It was an inter-war boffin hole in the hallowed ground of Oxford. And that meant comfort . . .
. . . tweedy, oak-panelled, port-swilling comfort, as enjoyed by high-table university dons in the relatively peaceful hiatus of the 1930s. Playwright/director Ron Reed lovingly recreated this privileged milieu in his cerebral Tolkien, which premiered at Pacific Theatre this week. . .
Reed also wound up starring in the title role of his own production, since the intended star, veteran actor John Innes, suddenly took ill on the eve of opening night, with uncertain prospects for recovery. As a last minute stand-in, Reed had no choice but to read from a hand-held script . . .
He did so with verve and authority – after all, over the course of a six-year gestation period, he himself wrote all the lines. Even so, it’s a lot to recite from memory in such a talky play that’s so focused on one central figure. If he continues in the role, as expected, he’ll doubtless get the speeches down by heart in short order.
Pacific Theatre confirmed the cast change the day after Kaye’s review.
It must have been a tremendous challenge to write a play about two such famous writers, and their immensely influential bodies of work (best known, of course, are Tolkien’s The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings and Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia).
Naturally, questions arise regarding omissions and questions of balance. Some might ask, for example, where was Owen Barfield – a key Inkling?
The simple answer, I suppose, is that there is such a wealth of material to draw on that 100 playwrights could have come up with 100 different treatments. But Ron Reed – founder and artistic director of Pacific Theatre – is the one who devoted years of study and hard work to the project.
And it has paid off. As a non-expert – but like so many millions of others a fan of both Tolkien and Lewis – I found the experience moving and insightful. And true to its subjects.
Tolkien runs until June 9.
Flavours of Hope, Re-membering
Flavours of Hope is a non-profit social enterprise which helps immigrant and refugee women “to earn a living wage and build social connections in communities through cooking and sharing culinary traditions.”
Trixie Ling founded the initiative, which began earlier this year to some very positive media attention. Here she describes an event coming up this weekend:
We are very excited for our next Mexican Pop-up Dinner: Taste of the Sea and Spanish Stories on Saturday, May 19 at YVR Prep Commissary Kitchen to celebrate the pacific coastal flavours of Mexico. Chef Angeles Canedo is going to create a traditional feast with her favourite family recipes of pico de gallo, spot prawn empanadas and ceviche dishes highlighting local sustainable seafood including ling cod and side stripe shrimp. This is a fundraising dinner to raise money for our summer pilot food market on Granville Island to sell multi-ethnic dishes from refugee women.
And an event she is involved with through her church, the next weekend:
An Act of Re-membering is an interactive, participatory, story-based workshop that shares Canada’s nations-to-nations history using a variety of voices, including your own. Join us on a storytelling journey while walking on a giant map! Let’s build community through learning more about each other and the history of race relations and reconciliation in Canada. This workshop is hosted by First Christian Reformed Church and the Office of Race Relations May 26.
In her ‘spare time,’ Ling works part-time as community connections coordinator with First CRC and is a board member with Citizens for Public Justice.
Pope Francis on film
A film by renowned filmmaker Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire) about the pope should be worth seeing – but it will only be in town for a few days. Here is the description:
Wim Wenders’ new documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions.
From his deep concern for the poor and wealth inequality, to his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, Pope Francis engages the audience face-to-face and calls for peace.
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word can be viewed May 18 – 24 at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas.
Pilgrim journey close to home
SoulStream community partners Brent Unrau, Roland Balzer and Janet Scott would love you to join them for a unique retreat May 26 in rural south Surrey. Their invitation to Labyrinth Prayer reads like this:
Are you yearning for time away with God but unable to go on an extended pilgrimage? Why not choose a pilgrimage close to home? With a backdrop of picturesque Kingfisher Farm, come and explore walking the labyrinth as a Christian spiritual practice.
Labyrinth Prayer is a contemplative spiritual discipline based on the ancient practice of pilgrimage. Join us, as pilgrims, for a facilitated day retreat offering worship, instruction, periods of silent prayer on the Labyrinth as well as on nature trails, reflection through the creative arts and small group sharing.
Go here for more background on the three facilitators.
The Sojourners at Bez
Hot on the tail of their session backing up Jim Byrnes on his House of Refuge CD, the Sojourners went into the studio with roots music whiz Steve Dawson in 2007 to record Hold On, their first solo album. Two years later, they took all they had learned in between and returned to record a CD simply entitled The Sojourners.
This is not music that strives to be polite. In The Sojourners’ universe, echoes of doo wop, R&B, country and blues weave together to create a unique sound that has all but vanished from today’s world.
May 2018Thy Kingdom Come – May 17, 2018 - May 20, 2018 at All Day
Dr. Paul Heintzman: Toward a Holistic Understanding of Leisure – Christian Perspectives – May 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The Sojourners – May 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
A Mexican Pop-Up Dinner: Taste of the Sea and Spanish Stories – May 19, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Handel Society Presents . . . – May 19, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Self Defence Seminar for Women – May 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Spiritual Perspectives on Death & Dying – May 22, 2018 at All Day
Lines of Thought: Drawing Explorations & Painting Studies - Opening Reception – May 23, 2018 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Cameron Johnston: Stress Management Seminar – May 23, 2018 - May 24, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Dr. Susan Phillips: Narrative and Pilgrimage – Forming Our Stories in the Company of Others – May 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: The Angela Verbrugge Quartet – May 23, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word – May 24, 2018 at All Day
Tax Clinic – May 24, 2018 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB: Preaching and Communicating in a Franciscan Era – What is the Church Learning from an Argentine, Jesuit Pope? – May 24, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Cultivating Life – May 25, 2018 - May 27, 2018 at All Day
HISTORYMAKER WEEKEND 2018 – May 25, 2018 - May 27, 2018 at All Day
River School: Journeys in Compassion, with Steve Stewart – May 25, 2018 - May 27, 2018 at All Day
Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation – May 25, 2018 - May 27, 2018 at All Day
Invisible Injustice Forum – May 25, 2018 at 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
#ChurchToo Conference: Responding to Professional Sexual Misconduct – May 25, 2018 - May 26, 2018 at 6:30 pm - 4:45 pm
Together for Adoption Conference – May 25, 2018 - May 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Global Outreach Day – May 26, 2018 at All Day
Labyrinth Prayer: A Pilgrim Journey Close to Home – May 26, 2018 at 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Refugee Support: Basic Training – May 26, 2018 at 8:45 am - 3:00 pm
Understanding Islam & Loving Muslims – May 26, 2018 at 8:45 am - 12:00 pm
An Act of Re-membering Workshop – May 26, 2018 at 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Learning By Design: Effective Strategies for Teaching Adults – May 26, 2018 at 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Books 'n Bistro Boutique – May 26, 2018 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Living Single Again (Saturday mornings) – May 26, 2018 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
All That is SHE: Benefit for the Joy Smith Foundation – May 26, 2018 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Praise and Worship Concert – May 26, 2018 - May 27, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Worship Invades White Rock – May 26, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Jazz Vespers: Strong Women of Song – May 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: The Hot Mammas – May 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
VOS 2018 Spring Concert: Psalms of My Soul – May 27, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Focus on Life 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner – May 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The Nones: An Evolving Story of Secularity in Canada – May 29, 2018 at 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Dr. Zac Niringiye: Christian Witness and the Common Good – Repenting Mission – May 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: The Bill Weeds Trio – May 30, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Jun 2018Christian Faith and Popular Culture Conference – June 1, 2018 at 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Carnival: Richmond Christian School's 60th Anniversary – June 1, 2018 at 2:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Business As Mission Social Impact Investment Conference – June 1, 2018 - June 2, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 4:00 pm
What is the ‘Best’ Evidence God Created? with Carl Kerby – June 1, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Jazz Meets Gospel – June 2, 2018 at All Day
Book Signing: For Better, For Worse – June 2, 2018 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Genesis and Jesus with Carl Kerby – June 2, 2018 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
REST Fest 2018 – June 2, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Creation Science AGM Dinner Meeting & Finding God in Ancient China with Carl Kerby – June 2, 2018 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professions (NACCAP) Annual Conference – June 5, 2018 at All Day
A Community Aware: Resisting the Pipeline – June 5, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Celia Deane-Drummond: The Lost Soul of Homo – Humility, Wisdom & Technology in Deep Evolutionary Time – June 5, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Paul Stevens & Alvin Ung: Spiritual Friendship & Mentoring Today – June 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm
Minho Song: Unchanging Mission Principles in an Age of Rapid Change – Lessons from the Past – June 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Bryn Kinders & Friends – June 6, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
First Reformed – June 7, 2018 at All Day
Tolkien by Ron Reed – June 7, 2018 - June 9, 2018 at All Day
Watoto: Signs & Wonders – June 7, 2018 at 12:00 am
Everyday Abbey Webinar: There Aren't Enough Hours in the Day – June 7, 2018 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
David Lewin: Thinking About Tomorrow – Where Theology, Technology and Education Meet – June 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Watoto: Signs & Wonders – June 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Duelling with Cause – June 8, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 11:30 pm
The Story of Anglicanism – June 9, 2018 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Watoto: Signs & Wonders – June 9, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Night of Power prayer meeting – June 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Hymn Festival: Blessed Assurance – June 9, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Jazz Vespers: Angela Verbrugge – June 10, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Doc Fingers Quartet – June 10, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Watoto: Signs & Wonders – June 10, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Night of Power prayer meeting – June 10, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Watoto: Signs & Wonders – June 12, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
BC Christian Ashram – June 13, 2018 at All Day
Summer Connect – June 13, 2018 at 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Nancy Newman & Friends – June 13, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Tigers Be Still by Kim Rosenstock – June 13, 2018 - June 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fr. David Bauer Memorial Golf Classic – June 14, 2018 at All Day
Laila Biali – June 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Run for H2O – June 16, 2018 at 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Restoration Day at A Rocha – June 16, 2018 at 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Amazing Grace: A Day Conference with Terry Virgo – June 16, 2018 at 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Book Launch: Church in Surrey & White Rock – The Untold Story – June 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Stars & Dark Matter, Quilts by Lois A. Klassen: Gallery Exhibit Opening Reception – June 16, 2018 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Ember Vancouver – June 16, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
All My Relations: Indigenous People's Day Celebration – June 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Ingrid Stitt – June 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
VOS Choir: Father's Day Appreciation Concert – June 17, 2018 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Sarah Williams: The Spirituality of Time – June 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Celebrate World Refugee Day – June 19, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Reina Del Cid – June 19, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
World Refugee Day: Information Fair – June 20, 2018 at 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
The Invisible City [Kakuma] Documentary Film Screening – June 20, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Laura Crema & Friends – June 20, 2018 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Lines of Thought: Drawing Explorations & Painting Studies – June 21, 2018 at 12:00 am
Won't You Be My Neighbor? – June 21, 2018 at All Day
VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir (TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival) – June 22, 2018 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Community Movie Night: Paddington 2 – June 22, 2018 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Spiritual Trauma Seminar – June 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
We are Neighbours Celebration – June 23, 2018 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
A Comedy & Dessert Night with Phil Callaway – June 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
World Refugee Sunday – June 24, 2018 at All Day
Point Grey Fiesta: Ecumenical Church Service – June 24, 2018 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am