Through the eyes of the director: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Whenwinter quarter came to a close with Bellevue College’s production of  “Little Shop of Horrors”, the Theatre Arts Department had to quickly transition to Stage Fright’s production of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”. Entertainment doesn’t rest at BC.

At the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival of 2012, BC drama student Michael Lacker was enraptured by an adaption of a scene from “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”. Riveted by the strong script and modern interpretation of biblical events, Lacker came back to Washington with an appreciation for the show. Shortly after returning from the KCACT Festival, Lacker attended a performance of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” in Seattle. Inspired by its use of transitional film sequences and design concepts exhibited at this performance, Lacker endeavored to bring the production to the BC stage.

What followed was a yearlong effort to adapt and prepare for a Stage Fright managed production of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”. This entailed challenges, such as finding a design crew to build the show. Fortunately, experts in the profession rolled in from local acclaimed theatres like 5th avenue Theatre and and Village Theatre within months of the show’s opening.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot takes place in purgatory, allowing the incorporation of historical figures that are also waiting to be judged. The witnesses range anywhere from characters that weren’t even in the story, like Mother Theresa and Sigmund Freud, to characters that ere directly involved in Judas’ betrayal, like Pontius Pilate and Cathius the Elder.“Through all of these interesting, powerful questions and testimonies, we get to find out, as an audience, if Judas is innocent or guilty,” Lacker explained.

Stephen Adly Gulrgis’ intriguing script inspired Lacker to cultivate the performance at BC.  Lacker explained that the play that surrounds a trial that revisits Judas’ case to see if he should really be where he is in the ninth circle of hell, where he is ‘freezing his ass off,’ or if he should be exonerated or absolved of all of his sins and be sent to heaven. “Throughout the show, you look at a lot of different testimonies and questions that are presented by the lawyers and the witnesses,” he said.

When reading the script, Lacker’s immediate reaction was, “oh this is amazing.” It was his immediate desire to share this story with the rest of the BC  Theatre Department. “The actors were intrigued by the script immediately. They got used to the material and grasped it quickly,” he said. Lacker emphasized that each role in the production had its own challenges and necessary research.  “You need to get the strength out of people. Find their highlights and bring that out on stage. This is a challenge in itself, but so far it’s going really well,” said Lacker in regards to preparing the cast for performance.

When asked what sets apart a great director from the rest, Lacker’s philosophy is that success comes from being driven by the audience. “If you make a painting on the skill level of Michelangelo and no one sees your art, then it doesn’t mean anything. When there is no one to watch your show and judge it to say if it’s good or bad, there isn’t a point to doing it in the first place.”

“If you enter the show with a very open mind and without high pre conceived notions, I recommend you leave them at the door,” offered Lacker in closing.