CONTACT: Amy Oakeson
Department of Theatre, Communications Specialist
801-581-6406 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Judas Iscariot Gets His Day in Court
in the U Department of Theatre’s production of
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
January 28-30 and February 2-6 in the Babcock Theatre
Should Jesus’ duplicitous disciple Judas Iscariot continue to languish in Hell, or can a case be made for his redemption? The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre explores this question in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s controversial courtroom drama The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, presented January 28 through 30 and February 2 through 6 in the Babcock Theatre.
In this compelling serio-comic play, playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis imagines a trial to determine Judas’ motives for betrayal, beyond the 30 pieces of silver, and explores the redeemability of this infamous betrayer.
The play begins on a decidedly serious note with Judas Iscariot’s mother mourning the death of her son, whom she had to bury after he hanged himself. She insists that if her boy now languishes in Hell, then there can be no God, for no God of love could inflict such suffering on one of his creatures. What ensues is a fantastical trial in a corner of Purgatory called Hope.
Representing Judas is a sexy defense attorney named Fabiana Aziza Cunningham. Presiding over the trial is an ill-tempered Civil War era judge, whose own admittance to Heaven is pending. Evidence is produced, arguments made, and theories about motive presented by colorful personalities who parade in and out of the court as witnesses for the defense and the prosecution—including Mary Magdalene, a not- so saintly Mother Theresa, Sigmund Freud, a handful of Saints, Pontius Pilate, Satan and even Jesus Christ. While the play begins like a courtroom drama, it slowly morphs into a meditation on the conflict between divine mercy and human free will, and the nature of forgiveness, focusing on the Bible’s most notorious sinner.
Stephen Adly Guirgis is one of the most passionate and powerful young playwrights of our day. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is an intense drama filled with laughter and characters who are memorable and believable—even if they are angels, Satan, or the Savior. While Guirgis’s dialogue is often poetic, it is poetry with a decidedly contemporary feel that melds street slang, rude comedy and sublime allusions. The New York Times hails Guirgis as “a playwright…with a fierce and questioning mind that refuses to settle for glib answers, a gift for identifying with life’s losers and an unforced eloquence that finds the poetry in lowdown street talk.”
Directing this production is Guest Director Eric Tucker. Mr. Tucker, a graduate of the Trinity Repertory Conservatory, has a strong background in directing classical theatre, but more recently has turned to directing contemporary theatre pieces. In discussing the relationship between classical theatre and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Mr. Tucker says that “they share a grounding in language. Guirgis uses language, many diverse forms of language, to bring some very ‘iconic’ characters to life. But he gives his characters very vernacular voices, rather than biblical ones. As audience members, we expect to hear these characters speak a certain way, and Guirgis completely turns this expectation on its head when we hear them using street slang, or profanity, or an unexpected dialect. All of a sudden, while we may have previously heard or read a lot of the things these characters have said, we are forced to listen to what they have to say in a new way, and in a new light, and in turn it brings a new perspective of Judas Iscariot and why he may have done the things he did. With language, Guirgis is really able to get to the guts of one of the over-riding themes of this play, which I believe is self-forgiveness. Judas could be in heaven if he wanted to be, but he is unable to convince himself that he himself truly deserves forgiveness. We all do bad things. We’ve all done bad things. This play points that fact out, and forces us to reflect on the nature of forgiveness.”
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot will be presented in the Babcock Theatre, January 28 through 30 and February 2 through 6 at 7:30 p.m. An additional matinee performance will be presented on February 5 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and Season Flexpasses for the remainder of the U Department of Theatre’s season can be purchased now by calling 801-581-7100, or online at www.kingsburyhall.org
Patrons are advised that The Last Days of Judas Iscariot deals with controversial subject matter and contains strong language that may be offensive to some viewers.
Publicity photos are available online at www.theatre.utah.edu/press