The Last Days of Judas Iscariot - January 09 - January 11, 2014

The Beacon School


To raise questions of faith in a public school environment is a risk. This I know. But I also know that creating is a risk. Trust is a risk. And therefore everything I do every day is a risk - in someone’s eyes. Making theatre requires faith, creativity and trust on a daily basis. But I also believe fiercely that what you risk is what you value.


This year celebrates the 10th Anniversary Season of the Beacon Drama Art Theatre and my tenth year at Beacon. It is amazing to think that a decade ago B’DAT was a motley crew of a dozen students assembled in the cafeteria to clumsily produce a play and I was a first year teacher spinning optimistic wheels. Currently B’DAT has a roster of over 100 students singing, dancing, building, writing and imagining themselves in every sense of the word with a support team of over a dozen teachers and teaching artists helping them along the way. In honor of this milestone I selected plays this year that would test just how far Beacon could push the boundaries of theatre at the high school level. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot does just that.


I wanted to blow the roof off this joint- thinking that this was also our last year in the 61st Street location. (Oopse. I guess I will have to top this next year.) But Judas bares its soul in the gritty – get it done – way that is the heartbeat of what makes B’DAT magical in the first place. The play is just so “us”. We’ve always been a little rough around the edges, improvising, problem solving, honoring the work, and honoring each other. Kindness before accomplishment, acceptance before judgment, ensemble over individual. Jesus would be proud.  


Jesus. You’re not supposed to talk about Jesus in a public school! But this is Beacon, where one of my career-defining moments came when I challenged a tardy student and she replied, “I’m so sorry I was late Ms. Cimato! Jesus and Mohammed were fighting in Advisory!” And she wasn’t kidding. Jesus and Mohammed were boys in her Advisory with weighty names and they were also best friends. They had a spat and she intervened. I cannot make this stuff up!


Similarly the Jesus and Judas in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot are totally bros. The apostles are totally their boys. Some might even argue that they are a gang and Stephen Adly Guirgis writes poetic prose with a hip hop hum burning under dirty metaphors slammed next to biblical illusions. His visceral juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane is poignant and intentional and in my humble playmaker’s opinion incredibly beautiful.


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