Fall Drama: An Adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress
October 26, 2023
This year’s fall play is a dramatic adaptation of John Bunyan’s allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress on November 3 and November 4 at 7:00 p.m., as well as a matinee performance at 1:00 p.m. on November 3.
For many of us, Bunyan’s 17th-century tale of Pilgrim’s journey to the Celestial City is so beloved that a mere mention of the title sends our mind’s eye back to our first visions of Vanity Fair, the Slough of Despond, and the Castle of Giant Despair. Perhaps such imaginings prompt us to anticipate elaborate or ostentatious sets.
To be enraptured in joyful contemplation of possible set designs, however, is to overlook the significance of the story itself. To avoid this pitfall, Tom Key’s adaptation is spare and lean. With simple sets and a nine-member cast, this minimalist version of Pilgrim’s Progress puts Pilgrim’s journey from death to life and then life everlasting on center stage.
The centrality of the storyline is what attracted director Alyssa Hathcock to this adaptation. Hathcock noted the minimalist aesthetic engages actors and audiences in productive ways. For actors, the benefit of this play is that “they can focus on what they are saying and the story they are telling,” Hathcock said. Similarly, audiences will certainly be entertained, but the play prompts thought and reflection because the story is always forefront. Hathcock believes the audience “will be spurred to think deeply after the performance and see the importance of moving closer to God.”
Hathcock has seen the play affect the cast in this way as they have rehearsed. Over the last several weeks, they have focused on Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Similar to trappings and allurements that threaten us in our Christian walk, temptations assail Pilgrim routinely. “Pilgrim is constantly going one direction, and people are constantly trying to pull him back or off to one side to keep him from the Celestial City,” Hathcock noted. “The play, then, has reminded us to draw near to grace in mundane moments of life, to know Christ deeply so that it becomes more natural to run to Him in moments of temptation, testing, or despair than to run to sin.”
Lead actor Logan Lindow hopes that the play will not only edify believers but also challenge unbelievers. When asked what he was most excited about, he said, “This play will present the gospel clearly. I’m excited for unbelievers in the audience to hear the gospel.”
To those of us who love the adventures Pilgrim faces enroute to the Celestial City, it is Pilgrim’s salvation–from the penalty, the power, and, ultimately, the presence of sin–that thrills us. That’s a story that never gets old, so we invite you to come journey with Pilgrim and reflect on God’s grace in your own life. And bring a neighbor. We want as many people to reach the real Celestial City as possible.
Admission is free. Donations are welcome and will go to support future drama performances.
More information and livestream is available on our Fall Drama page.