‘Judas’ explores capacity for forgiveness

Set in a mystic courtroom in a purgatorial void, “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, examines unconditional love, what it means to be human, and humanity’s capacity for forgiveness.

The play is directed by Nathan Motta, the artistic director at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights. This is Motta’s first time directing at BW, but not his first time directing at the collegiate level rather than at a professional theatre.

“The show deals with these characters of Catholicism and examines love and forgiveness and empathy and humanity,” said Motta. “Judas is on trial, but we don’t really know what the trial means. Really what the whole play is about is every character that gets examined, you see both sides of it. For almost everyone you see positive and you see negative. The real question is who are we to judge someone else? Do we really understand what someone else has been through?”

Rachel Alloway, stage manager and a senior at BW, elaborated on the complexity of the show.

“A lot of the characters are trying to find forgiveness for themselves and asking for forgiveness, and there’s a lot of love going around,” said Alloway. “Pretty much every character loves somebody or something they’re fighting for.”

The play deals with complex themes and well-known religious characters, such as Judas Iscariot, Jesus, Simon the Zealot, and even Satan. Despite the amount of religious characters and ideas, the show is not just for religious people.

“The heavy religious component threw me off a little bit,” said Alloway. “I’ve found, as a non-religious person, a lot of things I can connect with, and I think it’s very possible, no matter what your beliefs are, to find something you identify with in the play. It’s more universal than people would think.”

The show is staged in the Blackbox theatre, having moved there from the dance studio on Oct. 3.

“The concept is really interesting,” said Motta, in that it’s “set in a kind of void and uses the space in the Blackbox to give the audience an experience that they’re sitting in a black hole. We’re trying to create a space that is now and nowhere.”

Despite the heavy material and themes, the play “is very funny. There’s a lot of comedy despite what people would associate with the subject matter,” said Motta. “We’re really trying to find every moment of humor to help make the darker moments that much more effective.”

“It’s an interesting mix of drama and comedy,” said Alloway.

Still, even with the vague themes and the touches of comedy, the show reflects a large part of the world around us today.

“I don’t think America has ever been as polarized as it is now,” said Motta. “People are so quick to put people in a box and not see them as a human being and to make judgements about them. What I think the play is getting at is that essentially, we just have to take care of each other.”

“I think there’s something to be gained thinking about loving everybody no matter what,” said Alloway. “It’s important to remember the humanity of everyone.”

The show opens in the Blackbox theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 23 and runs through Saturday, Oct. 26.

Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available online at bw.edu/events or at the Kleist Center for Drama and Art box office.