Friday, 4 August 2017

The Last Days of Judas Dramaturgy: Alexander Knight @ Edfringe 2017

The new theatre company, Parallax Theatre, will take to the stage in a startling and entertaining production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s, ‘Last Days of Judas Iscariotfor the entire Fringe. The run is starting on Saturday 5 August 2017. The company is performing at the Pleasance Beyond at 1.30 every day.

The ten strong company was formed at the start of the year for the purpose of performing at the Fringe and with the intention of touring the play after its initial run in Edinburgh. The cast is made up of a number of established and debut performers:

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is new production of the rip-roaring tragi-comedy It tells the story of the imagined trial in Purgatory of Judas Iscariot. It is full on and is also very, very funny.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The play was the inspiration. It is extraordinary. It touches on a lot of the major themes we see today - from fake news to the rise of celebrity lawyers; from high profile trials to questions about the very nature of wrong and right/ guilt and innocence. I believe humour can often get to the heart of things in ways more conventional theatre simply misses. To bring the play to the Fringe I formed Parallax and spent three months raising every penny I could and have borrowed as well to bring it here.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Absolutely!  it allows people to explore ideas and their feelings about things in a totally different way. It throws a new light on subjects and challenges your perceptions. It takes you out of yourself.

How did you become interested in making performance?
 I can’t recall a time when I was not interested in performance. But I do remember the exact moment I committed myself to giving my passion a chance: I was sitting staring out of the window - I was meant to be studying law at university - and there, was a group of actors off to rehearsal and I just thought, 'What am I doing here when the life I want is across the road?' So,  I just chucked in the course and have been working to break through in my craft ever since.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
A key approach was to couple humour and tragedy to explore a story that many know - or think they know - in a way that is adventurous and challenging. It's all about making an old story relevant to today so people can explore the themes the play touches on. Hopefully they come away having had a great time but also thinking about the world we live in in a slightly different way.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This is Parallax first production but we didn't want just to put on a traditional production. I think the minimal set is very effective and it provides just enough atmosphere without detracting from the wit and pace of the script. The look is very important - it enhances the words so people can get inside the ideas on stage.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope they have a great time - and are still thinking on the issues long after they have gone home. Ultimately  each member of the audience needs to decide if they think that Judas is guilty as the Bible tells us, or a pawn in another's greater game. I think those ideas are very relevant to today and perhaps that will help people challenge some of the news and issues face are facing at the moment.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience
I have put together a very fresh show - one where the cast mixes experience and debut performers. I have tried to keep it real  -everyone has their independence of view on how to interpret their characters - which brings a real immediacy to the performances.  We then brought it all together. I think this combination of independence and interdependence helps keep things very much alive - much as it would be in a real trial.

The thought-provoking trial presents enraged lawyers - a feisty public defender and a corrupt Egyptian businessman - debating points from the existential to the ridiculous. The courtroom is presided over by the last Confederate general to die in battle and star witnesses include Mother Teresa and Sigmund Freud.

Meanwhile Judas is in his own world of memory and regret.  We all think we know the story, but the play looks at the issue from every direction. And at the end you decide whether Judas was guilty or not. Does he go up, down, or remain in purgatory?

Co-Director Alexander Knight said:

 “The Last Days of Judas Iscariotis a seriously funny play with a funnily serious message. It uses laughter and surreal humour to tackle major themes facing the world we live in today the distortion of truth and fake news is all in there. The play underlines how high profile legal cases can lose sight of victims as both sides jockey for the best sound bites and personal profile.

But first and foremost the Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a great night out with a tremendous and energetic cast. This is the Parallax Theatres first production and we aim to send audiences home after having a serious laugh.

The play is presented by arrangement with Jozef Wienberger Ltd. 

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