Opening Nov. 28: ‘The Last Days of Judas Iscariot’

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Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts will be wrapping up the 2017 fall semester with its theater production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The show will take place in the Forum Theater in the RTV building on the OU Athens campus Nov. 28-30 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public, however reservations are encouraged here.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot was written as a provocative comedy in the early 2000s by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. The play examines the fate of the infamous Biblical figure, Judas Iscariot, as he faces trial for his actions in Purgatory.

(Jonathan Hetler)

Known largely in the Christian community as a former disciple of Jesus, and ultimately, his betrayer, Judas Iscariot has been demonized as the man responsible for Jesus’s death. Christian ideology suggests that his punishment is to suffer in the depths of hell for all eternity.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot puts a unique twist on the familiar story by taking place in trial before Judas’s fate is declared. In doing so, the play explores themes of forgiveness, guilt, and sin through a thought-provoking, philosophical and comedic lens.

(Jonathan Hetler)

“The piece explores forgiveness, it explores mercy vs Justice. What I love about theatre is that if we can come to terms with Judas’s innocence in this particular play, then possibly we can come to terms with forgiving other people that have wronged us or that we have wronged,” said Jonathan Hetler, second year MFA directing candidate  and the production’s director.

Additionally, the play ties in historic and culturally significant figures such as Mother Theresa, Sigmund Freud, Caiaphas, Saint Monica, and Satan as witnesses to the stand.

While OU’s production will be staying true to the original scripted play, they have adapted the trial aspect of the set with their own artistic vision.

(Jonathan Hetler)

“Our Purgatory does not look like a courtroom whatsoever. We’ve really adapted this idea that the place and setting is called Hope, which is located in downtown Purgatory. And this is a play on words because we designed the set to look very hopeless… and so the question is, is there hope or is it hopeless?” said Hetler.

The cast is comprised of OU BFA and MFA acting students, and is supported with funding by Ohio University through Arts for Ohio.

(Jonathan Hetler)

As a second year MFA Directing candidate, Hetler chose the play as part of his program, and for its intriguing and thoughtful nature.

“I think the play tackles guilt and shame at its root, and I think that’s something that anyone can relate to,” he said. “If we can come to terms with that, then we’re better off. If we can rid ourselves from guilt and shame and embrace this forgiveness that is bestowed on us than we might just be better off in the long run.”