PROVO — The New Play Project, in conjunction with Provo Theater Company, is performing the world premiere of national award-winning playwright Mahonri Stewart's "Swallow the Sun," a new play based on the early life of C.S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia," "The Screwtape Letters," "Mere Mere Christianity" and "Till We Have Faces."

Although Stewart said that this play holds special significance for him personally, "The work of C.S. Lewis has had a meaningful influence upon me since I was young. It is due to him that my work is as religious as it is. To borrow Lewis' own words, he 'baptized my imagination.'"

The play centers around Lewis' conversion to Christianity. "People are surprised when I tell them that C.S. Lewis was once an entrenched atheist," said Stewart, "He became such a powerful advocate for Christianity that people have a hard time seeing him as anything but. But the reason he was such a powerful voice was because he had been on the other side. He knew their arguments, he felt the weight of their reasons."

Although the play has strong religious content, Stewart assures that the play is neither saccharine, nor didactic. "It is a conversion story, no doubt about it, but the men that effected Lewis' conversion were no intellectual lightweights. People like Hugo Dyson, Owen Barfield and the famed J.R.R. Tolkien were powerful, extremely intelligent individuals. They had tremendous impact on the change that happened in Lewis. I have strived to write this play with that in mind — to make it visceral, emotional, intellectual, lyrical, real."

If you go ...

What: Swallow the Sun

Where: Provo Theatre Company, 105 E. 100 North, Provo

When: 7:30 p.m. May 16, 17, 19, 23, 24; 2:30 p.m. May 17, 24

Cost: $10/$8 students, seniors

Phone: 830-4553

Web: www.newplayproject.org/tickets