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January 21, 2010

Stand witness to School of Drama’s ‘The Last Days of Judas Iscariot’

The UW School of Drama invites you to the trial of the centuries in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ entertaining exploration of history’s most legendary betrayal.


This Seattle premiere will be presented in the Meany Studio Theatre. It begins previews 7:30 p.m. Sunday Jan. 31, and runs through Feb. 14. Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, associate professor in acting and directing, the play features members of the UW’s prestigious Professional Actor Training Program as well as undergraduate actors.


Set in a time-bending, darkly comic world between heaven and hell, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a courtroom drama where the forces of good and evil put the Bible’s most infamous sinner on trial. In a setting that owes as much to the slums as to the scriptures, historical figures like Pontius Pilate, Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud and Satan testify in the trial of God and the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth vs. Judas Iscariot. However, is it really Judas who is being judged, or is it God Himself?


Nearly two dozen dynamic characters take the stage in this riveting play, including a gum-smacking saint, a radical apostle, a cigarette-addicted angel and a fisher of men who misses his boat. Using the contemporary language of the street, Guirgis modernizes and humanizes the story of Judas, resulting in laughs, tears and a lot of big questions. Is there a Heaven? Is there a Hell? And if these places exist, where does Judas belong? The play dissects traditional interpretations of good and evil, often literally moving from the ridiculous to the sublime in a single scene. During this compelling story, themes of fate and free-will, love and judgment, hope and despair surface, forcing us to wonder whether being ourselves is more important than being “good.”


Director Curtis-Newton said, “What I love about the play is that it is about really big ideas. It begins asking if betrayal can be forgiven and ends asking if we are willing to participate in our own salvation. Guirgis isn’t comfortable with the bad rap that religion gets. He isn’t comfortable with the idea that artists are by nature anti-religious. For him, religion and spirituality are not the sole property of religious extremists. These ideas compelled him to write as a way of re-claiming his faith. I think there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way and are looking for a way to take action. Making this play is for me a way to bring these issues to my community, to engage in this very sensitive dialogue. Our cast has already begun wading in these waters. The conversation has been rich and thoughtful.”

This show contains strong language. Tickets are $10 for previews, $15 for performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. All students pay $10 and members of the UW community pay $13. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through the UW Arts Ticket Office, 4001 University Way NE, 206-543-4880. Tickets are also available online, as if more information, at www.drama.washington.edu.