By Brenna Epstein (Cunningham in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot)
What makes this rehearsal process so special for me is that this role is, by far, the most challenging role I have ever played. This is due to the fact that I’m Jewish, and I really don’t know a whole lot about the Bible and the story of Jesus and Judas, so I’ve had to do a lot of my own research outside of rehearsal to get a better understanding of who these people were and why they are important in this production. I watched a lot of movies about the Judas story, including King of Kings and The Greatest Story Ever Told, and while I found them to be interesting and helpful for my general knowledge of the subject, I found the concept of defending Judas’s actions to be challenging.
My character, Cunningham, is a controversial figure because she is defending Judas’s actions and is fighting for him to be freed from his catatonic state in Hell, but as the story progresses, it is revealed that she has a very personal reason for bringing this trial up in the first place. There are so many layers to Cunningham’s personality, and one of the biggest challenges I have faced in rehearsal is figuring out where and how it might be the most appropriate to showcase those different sides. Even though the work is challenging, the rehearsals have been so much fun because this play has some ridiculously funny moments. There have been so many times when the whole room just erupted in fits of laughter because of the way someone said their line or the way they moved across the stage, and those few seconds or minutes are always nice little breaks that take us out of the serious and dramatic moments of the play.
It’s very hard for me to think about the run of this show ending because I have had such an amazing time working with the entire cast and crew of this production. I’m very excited to see what everything looks like when we all get into the Greene for tech, and I think that I will be the most proud of how hard everybody worked in order to make this production so special and unique. Putting on this show is not an easy task in any way, and having to portray these historical figures in this manner is also very complicated, but I know that my cast mates and I will rise to the occasion.
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.