By Sivan Amir, Production Dramaturg
Stephen Adley Guirgis, the playwright of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, puts a spin on the traditional Biblical tale placing Judas in a courtroom to answer the question if he should go to Hell. Known for works including Between Riverside and Crazy and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Guirgis explores the stories of people trying to make it in a world that often seems set against them.
Guirgis’ hope and wish was to use this play as a way to see Judas in a different perspective. In a world where Judas is often seen as the enemy or the betrayer, we are forced to look someone we disagree with in the eye and hear their perspective and listen to their story. It does not mean that we have to agree with him, because after all we are in a courtroom and looking strictly at the facts – but we are able to sit down and listen. The playwright has taken fictional characters, historical figures, and biblical figures to ensure that we get the full side of Judas’ story. He tells the stories of the other apostles and their relationships to Judas but also includes figures such as Mother Theresa, who also has been a controversial figure in our society. It proves that we all judge and are judged but no matter what we should listen to the story.
The playwright stated in an interview with Alissa Wilkinson from Vox, “if people read or see my plays, they can sense the theme of the religious or spiritual. It’s really not intentional, other than just the fact that I grew up Catholic. It’s hard to get the Catholic out of the Catholic. Even a bad Catholic, which I’ve certainly been at times. I don’t even know what I believe now, but it stays with you.” With this quote, Guirgis showcases that even if the religion does not stick with you, the idea of the search for truth and hearing the other perspective is still a story and theme worth sharing.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot runs January 30 through February 2 in the Greene Theater. $12 tickets ($8 with Emerson ID) are available at bit.ly/judas-iscariot. View our whole 2019–2020 season at emerson.edu/emersonstage.