Newswise — Imagine being a lawyer who must defend the Apostle Judas Iscariot who, according to the New Testament, betrayed Jesus Christ. Then imagine that the drama takes place in a courtroom in Purgatory where the stakes are literally eternal damnation or heavenly bliss.
After having to defend one of humankind’s greatest traitors, lawyers must use testimonies of such witnesses as Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud and even Satan to defend the disciple in “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis.
University of Illinois at Chicago Head of Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble member Yasen Peyankov directs the play, which is opening Friday. The play kicks off the 2017-2018 UIC theater season dubbed, “Deceitful Truth…,” which will see traditional plays as well as contemporary pieces.
“Stephen wrote the play in 2004 during the bloodiest phase of the Iraq war. I find the play even more relevant in 2017. Needless to say we live in strange times, times where we see the truth being trampled on on a daily basis with intolerance and oppression on the rise,” says Peyankov. “How do we examine what Judas did in the context of today, when stabbing someone in the back or outright crucifying them on Twitter has become the norm? We all become traitors to our own truth and ideals. And how are we different from Judas?”
“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” runs Sept. 29, 30 and Oct. 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees will run Oct 1, 4, and 7 at 2 p.m. A post-show talk, “Forgiveness, Faith and Humanity,” will be held following the Oct. 1 showing.
In November, UIC Professor Emeritus Luigi Salerni will direct “Tartuffe” by Molière. A 17th century French playwright, Molière is one of the great comedic masters of western literature. The play’s title character is the ultimate conman whose hypocritical greed and duplicity is glaringly obvious to some but not to others.
“Tartuffe” runs Nov. 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 12 and 18 at 2 p.m.; and Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. A discussion, “Imposters, Hypocrites, Religion and Politics,” will follow the Nov. 12 presentation.
In February, new UIC faculty member, Broadway produced playwright and teaching artist Lydia Diamond will direct “Intimate Apparel” by MacArthur genius and Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. The play will run Feb. 23, 24, March 1, 2, and 3 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 25, 28, and March 3 at 2 p.m. A post-show talk, “Historical Fiction and the Lives of Black Women,” will be held after the Feb. 25 performance.
The season will conclude with the play, “florissant & canfield” by playwright Kristiana Rae Colón. UIC Theatre faculty member and Jeff Award winner Derrick Sanders will direct the play, which focuses on Ferguson, Mo., as the #BlackLivesMatter movement is being born. Colón, a Chicago poet, playwright, actor and educator, has previously served as playwright in residence at UIC and is an ensemble member at Teatro Luna.
The play runs April 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m.; April 15 and 21 at 2 p.m.; and April 18 at 10 a.m. A post-show talk, “Black Lives Matter,” occurs after the April 15 performance.
“This season in particular invites the audience to explore connections between the personal and political, individual and social, and how we are all implicated in the present moment,” said Christine Mary Dunford, director of the School of Theatre and Music. “We hope our students leave with a greater understanding of how the magic of theater has the potential to propose and inspire new ways of seeing and being in the world.”
All performances will take part in the UIC Theatre building, 1044 W. Harrison St. For more information call the box office, (312)996-2939 or click here.