On March 9th, Raleigh Ensemble Players will open its new performance space at 213 Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh, NC, with Steven Adly Guirgis’ eyebrow-raising 2005 Off-Broadway biblical sensation, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Long-time REP artistic director C. Glen Matthews will direct this revisionist courtroom drama that gives its much reviled title character a chance to explain why he betrayed the man whom he followed for three years and hailed as the Messiah.
According to Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
“Set in a time-bending, darkly comic world between heaven and hell, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot reexamines the plight and fate of the New Testament’s most infamous and unexplained sinner.”
The Amazon.com product description claims, “… The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a philosophical meditation on the conflict between divine mercy and human free will that takes a close look at the eternal damnation of the Bible’s most notorious sinner….”
The Raleigh Ensemble Players production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot stars Ryan Brock as Judas Iscariot, Thaddaeus Edwards as Jesus of Nazareth, Lucius Robinson as Satan, and David Henderson as Butch Honeywell.
In reviewing previous presentations of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, USA Today called the play a “breathtaking [and] profoundly moving look at the difficulty of virtue and the necessity of mercy in an imperfect world.” The Guardian (U.K.) critic characterized The Last Days of Judas Iscariot as an “extraordinary play,” adding “[N]ot since Angels in America have I seen a play so unafraid to acknowledge the power of the spirit….”
Variety raved, “Stephen Adly Guirgis has written a real jaw-dropper …[,] [an] expressionistic fantasy … [with] raw language and flamboyantly street-savvy characters …. [H]is imagination is dazzling and his command of language downright thrilling.”
CurtainUp.com also saluted Stephen Adly Guirgis “one of the most passionate and powerful young playwrights to have come down the theatrical runway” and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot as “a must for anyone interested in the work of thoughtful and original playwrights.”
Time Out New York added, “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is no Sunday School class…. Depending on your faith — or lack thereof — you may find yourself disturbed or even enlightened by the arguments for and against Judas. For those whose church is the theater, there’s plenty here to feed the soul.”
New York Times Ben Brantley wrote, “[The Last Days of Judas Iscariot] shares many of the traits that have made Mr. Guirgis a playwright to reckon with in recent years: a fierce and questing 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…. Mr. Guirgis is a zealous and empathic researcher, and he presents dilemmas of ancient Galilee in terms winningly accessible to the twenty-first century….”
In addition to director Glen Matthews, the Raleigh Ensemble Players creative team for its inaugural production in its new performance space includes production designer Thomas Mauney, properties coordinator Lucius Robinson, sound designer Becca Easley, and stage manager Hillary Aarons.
Besides Messrs. Brock, Edwards, Robinson, and Henderson, the REP cast for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot also includes George Jack as Saint Peter/Caiaphas the Elder, Christine Rogers as Judas’ mother Henrietta Iscariot, Lori Scarborough Ingle as Fabiana Aziza Cunningham, Hazel S. Edmond as Gloria/Mother Teresa/Soldier, Byron Jennings as Bailiff/Simon the Zealot, Shawn Smith as Judge/Saint Matthew, Kenneth De Abrew as Yusef El-Fayoumy, Lormarev Jones as Saint Monica/Soldier, Jessica Jalal Phelps as Loretta/Sister Glenna/Mary Magdalene, Adam Rogers as Uncle Pino/Saint Peter/Pontius Pilate, and Jordan Long as Sigmund Freud/Soldier.
Raleigh Ensemble Players presents THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT at 8 p.m. March 9 Preview, 8 p.m. March 10-12, and 2 and 7 p.m. March 13 at 213 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $20 ($15 students, educators, seniors, and active-duty military personnel), except March 9th pay-what-you-can preview.
BOX OFFICE: 919/832-9607, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.realtheatre.org/box_office.html.
NOTE 1: On March 11th, there will be a post-performance talkback with the cast and production team.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 8 p.m. March 12th performance, and the preshow tactile tour begins at 7:15.
The Play: http://dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3629 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Days_of_Judas_Iscariot (Wikipedia), and http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=show&id=4080 (Internet Off-Broadway Database).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Adly_Guirgis (Wikipedia), http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=people&first=Stephen&last=Guirgis&middle=Adly (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0012289/ (Internet Movie Database).
Judas Iscariot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Iscariot (Wikipedia), http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08539a.htm (Catholic Encyclopedia), and http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=671&letter=J (Jewish Encyclopedia).
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