Blackbird Brings John Updike’s Novel ‘Roger’s Version’ to Stage

Rogers-Version-7-Kris-WenteBlackbird Theater completes its 2013-14 season with the world premiere of Roger’s Version, a new play adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author John Updike. It runs May 30 – June 8 in Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theatre and is co- sponsored by the Lipscomb University Department of Theatre and the Christian Scholars Conference. Tickets are onsale now.

Having received special permission from the Updike estate, Blackbird Artistic Director Wes Driver has written and will direct this original adaptation of Updike’s book. The story follows Roger Lambert, a bad-tempered divinity professor who finds his staid academic life and complacent faith challenged by the zealous ideas of Dale Kohler, a grad student who seeks to prove God’s existence through computer technology.

Rogers-Version-5-David-Compton-and-Amanda-Card“I’ve been wanting to turn Roger’s Version into a play for years,” says Driver. “The struggle between science and faith is so dynamically and dramatically realized, the ideas so weighty, the dialogue so clever and compelling—it’s perfect material for Blackbird and our mission to produce intellectually engaging theater.”

Roger’s Version features David Compton, Kris Wente, Amanda Card and Corrie Miller in a cast that includes Riley Hollingsworth, Richard DanielDavid ChattamBrad ForristerRobyn BergJohn Mauldin and Lane Wright. The show is produced by Blackbird Managing Director Greg Greene.


Rogers-Version-2-Kris-Wente“There are plenty of stories that entertain you. Fewer that genuinely move you. And then there are those very rare ones that, for some reason or other, cut you to the core—or seemingly raid your psyche—expressing your most deeply felt passions and perspectives. The characters are so vivid, you feel like you know them. Intimately. Because, truth be told, they seem to be reflections and extensions of yourself. That’s what Roger’s Version is to me.

Rogers-Version-3-Kris-Wente-and-David-Compton“Roger’s Version is one of John Updike’s lesser known novels, though no less acclaimed. Renowned more in religious circles than literary. It’s a fierce battle between beliefs, a theological bloodbath. And when I first read it—My God, more than ten years ago now — I wanted to put the thing on stage. Updike’s works are not known for making easy transitions to other media, but so much of this book already played like great drama: the frank, unflinching dialogue, the fiery ideological conflicts. To me, it cried out to be staged. To be incarnated. What a privilege that the Updike estate has let me do just that.

Rogers-Version-4-David-Compton-and-Kris-Wente“It’s an idea-rich, character-driven drama, where Christian history meets modern technology. Where science and religion butt heads and bare teeth—in such surprising ways, too: science is represented by a zealous believer; religion, by a less-than-pious divinity professor. A complex, intellectually demanding look at religious conviction, explored through the lives of damaged, desperate people. Simply put, it’s about faith and infidelity—and, despite conflicts (of beliefs and in our social affairs), that common quest for truth and meaning.”

— Wes Driver


Blackbird Theater is a non-profit theater company in Nashville that has gained popular and critical acclaim with productions of George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, and Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures (named “Best Musical” of 2012 by the Nashville Scene). They were awarded “Best Play” (Red), “Best Director” (Mike Fernandez), and “Most Outstanding Theatre Company” for 2012 by Jef Ellis and the First Night Honors and “Best Drama” by the Nashville Scene for their 2013 production of Amadeus. More information can be found at their website:

Rogers-Version-6-David-Compton-and-Amanda-CardRogers-Version-1-Kris-Wente-and-David-Compton*Logo as well as photos by Wes Driver courtesy Blackbird Theater.

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