To say I grew up in the church would be an understatement; I lived in the church. Five nights a week were split between various choir rehearsals and bible study, with three separate services on Sundays. I also was Sunday School Secretary. I’ve had the same bible for over fifty years and have read each word written there.
So, when I first read “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” I was captivated by the philosophical and theological questions it raised as well as the language and characters playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis created to ask the relevant questions presented in this play – about God’s infinite love or God’s righteous judgement and vengeance. What happened to Judas Iscariot, perhaps the most infamous traitor in history?
The question of Judas Iscariot’s fate was never a question in my church teachings and yet it is the central question Guirgis poses and then provides no answer. Which is more powerful, God’s love or God’s vengeance? Are they mutually exclusive? Can one exist without the other? Did fate preordain Judas’s betrayal of Christ, or was the choice his? For over two months, the cast has grappled with these questions and, like the playwright who offers no answers, neither do we. Like the playwright, we offer the questions for you, the audience, to answer: God’s infinite love or God’s righteous justice? What happened to Judas Iscariot? Is he in heaven or hell, or languishing in Purgatory, awaiting his final judgment?
Many thanks to the cast and crew for your long hours of hard work and dedication. My thanks to Erin Urbaniak, my stage manager; Aaron Simons (not to be confused with Erin!), my assistant director and interpreter/translator; to Maddie Cavallino for her research; to Duncan Davies and his mad lighting skills, to Jeff Larson, Tom Marhenke and Julia Perdue, whose work ethic are truly legendary; to Sarah Walsh, Craig Latrell, Jeanne Willcoxon, Maria Maier, D’Vaughn Agu, Seth Reiser and Derek Van Heel for your invaluable help. My thanks also go to President David Wippman, Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen, Dean of Students Terry Martinez and Government Professor Phil Klinkner for allowing us to use their images. Finally, thanks to my wife Kim for putting up with my endless questioning about this play.
Dedicated to the memory of George Floyd