Friday, November 2, 2007

Saint Judas Iscariot?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2007 at 5:54 PM

What if Judas Iscariot did not commit suicide? And instead he married, became a farmer, and wrote a Gospel? Sounds like the kind of theater production that would earn a grant. Cuz you know, it's serious, and it challenges stuff, like, assumptions. Maybe Judas Iscariot isn't really such a bad guy after all. Wasn't he just used by God? Maybe Judas deserves our pity, if not, say, our veneration? Yep, this production company will travel

on a development grant. I saw prominent arts administrators in the audience, standing with everyone else in a half-circle around an oak tree in the Marigny, where the play-let, INCIDE[Judas Iscariot] took place.

Site-specific usually means "outside", which was lovely at 6pm on All Saints Day. The sky a Maxfield Parrish pink. A phalanx of birds passing in formation overhead. The train horn that I hear every night from my bungalow in the Bywater went off just in time, as if on cue, under-scoring a particularly poignant line by Judas. Formula for a great outdoor production. But then less positive accidents happen outisde too. "Hey, is that child in the play or does she need better home training? Oh, ok. She's in the play. But what about those dogs sniffing Judas' pants?"

Not everyone took INCIDE[Judas Iscariot] as seriously as the cast. My friend Victory, who's known for his tart tongue, quipped, "That was in the top 5 worst things I've ever seen." Other friends said "We didn't care for it" and "I just didn't get it." I can see why people might dismiss INCIDE[Judas Iscariot] for its overly serious dramatics and heavy-handed language. Also, was there a memo about putting your title in brackets? See my recent blog on root [cel.lar].

But I feel a bit generous toward the project. Not in my worst 5 at all. Some solid talents involved: Nick Slie from Mondo Bizarrro and recent NEA fellowship recipient Kathy Randels. The singing was pretty. The ending touched me, the way the actors left through the audience, smiling and hugging on their way out, like believers after a baptism. And I do admire the serious intent. The question is delivery. If I was the God of theater writers, I'd edit down the language to only the most communicative, like shaving thin slices off a bar of soap, slice down to the most pertinent. There's a lot of poetic speech, but some of it don't go. And how about a trickster Satan? A comic character might lighten the ponderous tone.

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