Cft Shadowlands 447 X792 Px.

Hugh Bonneville   Liz White

Shadowlands

By William Nicholson

Festival TheatreTicketsPrice: from £10

Overview

Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn fast.

Celebrated writer C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, splits his time between an ordered domestic routine at home with his brother, Warnie, and the academic rigour of his dispassionate, all-male Oxford college.

His evenings are spent replying to his many correspondents. One stands out: vivid, expressive, New York poet Joy Gresham.

When she arrives in England with her young son, Douglas, everything Lewis believed to be true about life and love is thrown into question. And a relationship begins which will take them both to the extremities of pain and joy.

William Nicholson’s much-loved play premiered in the West End in 1989, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and being nominated for a Tony Award on its subsequent Broadway run. Originally a 1985 television drama, it became a feature film in 1993.

Hugh Bonneville returns to Chichester following his acclaimed performance in An Enemy of the People (2016). His many television and film appearances include Downton Abbey, W1A and Paddington.

Liz White makes her Chichester debut as Joy Gresham. Her many TV series include Life on Mars, Ackley Bridge and The Halcyon; theatre includes Electra (Old Vic), Port and A Woman Killed with Kindness (National Theatre).

Director Rachel Kavanaugh returns to Chichester where her many productions include Single Spies and Half A Sixpence (2016) and The Winslow Boy (2017).



Prologue 17 Lime Teal.

Prologue tickets available from 2 March

Cast & Creatives

Cast

Creative team

Rachel Kavanaugh

Director

Peter McKintosh

Designer

Howard Harrison

Lighting Designer

Catherine Jayes

Music

Fergus O’Hare

Sound Designer

Georgina Lamb

Movement Director

Charlotte Sutton

Casting Director

Gallery

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Q&A with Hugh Bonneville and Liz White

Q&A with Hugh Bonneville and Liz White

William Nicholson's Shadowlands opens in the Festival Theatre in April. We caught up with Hugh Bonneville who plays C.S. Lewis and Liz White who plays Joy Gresham to ask what attracted them to the piece and how they are preparing for their roles. 


Hugh Bonneville returns to Chichester following his acclaimed performance in An Enemy of the People (2016). His many television and film appearances include Downton Abbey, W1A and Paddington.

You play C.S. Lewis in this production. What was it about the subject matter and Lewis as a character that attracted you to the role?

William Nicholson’s contribution to the script of the movie Gladiator and his more recent screenplay, Breathe, were both deeply affecting (I appeared in the latter, so perhaps I’m biased). He writes about love and suffering with extraordinary insight and compassion. So his exploration of the life of sheltered, certain, C.S. Lewis being disrupted by such powerful forces is a story I can’t wait to tell.

How are you preparing for the role?
I grew up on The Chronicles of Narnia and when I studied Theology for A Level, The Screwtape Letters were a must-read… I’ve retrieved them from the attic and am dusting them off!

Many audience members may be coming to CFT for the first time. What would you say to those theatregoers coming to Chichester this season?
Leafing through the Theatre’s Festival 2019 brochure made me grin with anticipation: the programme is so varied and deliciously enticing. With the novel addition of the Spiegeltent (the very word sounds mischievously exotic), I know newcomers to Chichester are going to have a wonderful whale of a time.

Hugh Bonneville High Res.

Liz White makes her Chichester debut as Joy Gresham. Her many TV series include Life on Mars, Ackley Bridge and The Halcyon; theatre includes Electra (Old Vic), Port and A Woman Killed with Kindness (National Theatre).

What attracted you to the role of Joy Gresham?
I saw the film of Shadowlands years ago. She is immediately striking. Not least because in a room surrounded by men, in 1952 she asserts herself as an equal. She is not intimidated by their gender or status and she speaks with integrity about her relationship with the world around her. I admired her directness and her wit. 

How are you preparing for the role?
It is a rare treat to have so much information about a character. I am reading her book of poems which includes sonnets she wrote about Lewis and some of her essays, including The Longest Way Round, which describes her journey from Judaism to Atheism, to Communism then to Christianity. She was a tenacious seeker and as such she wasn’t intimidated by change. She was a great critic which could cause offence amongst her literary peers but she judged herself with the same scrutinous eyes. Looking back over her life, she made many impulsive changes that ultimately led to her and Lewis being so in love.

This is your first time performing at CFT. What are you most looking forward to?
I love working on stage. The whole process is very special. I always find day one of rehearsals pretty mind-blowing. All the different departments meet, all clutching the same document, inspired to make something brilliant and unique and worthy of dragging people out of the house for. Chichester Festival Theatre has an incredible reputation. I am really honoured to be a part of such an exciting production.

Liz White.

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