OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Life of Judas Iscariot explored in play on Chicago stage

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-08-20T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Life of Judas Iscariot explored in play on Chicago stageBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

When I teach communication and writing courses at Valparaiso University and Purdue University North Central, the textbook I use for my Introduction to Public Speaking course, called "The Art of Public Speaking" by Stephen E. Lucas, offers a great example in one chapter, for a possible speech topic about superstitions.

It explores how to build a speech about the belief that the number 13 has been a symbol of bad luck dating back to biblical times.

It assigns the reason for an associated bad omen with this numerical value, stating: "There were 13 people at the Last Supper of Christ, Jesus and his 12 disciples." Since one of the figures at the gathering was Judas Iscariot, who had already arranged to betray Jesus by making a deal with the Chief Priests, Scribes and Pharisees to "hand him over for 30 pieces of silver," the number 13 carries a powerful symbolization for many.

Executive Producers Julia Albain and Corey Lubowich have just announced a new production called "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" by Stephen Adly Guirgis, and directed by Albain. It's being presented at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont in Chicago, for 18 performances opening Friday and running until Sept. 8, 2013.

Tickets are $23 at the Stage 773 box office or call (773) 327-5252 or online at stage773.com. A limited number of preferred seating tickets, priced at $48, include priority access before the house opens, reserved seating in the front row and a souvenir program.

I'm told "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" tells the story of a court case over the ultimate fate of Judas Iscariot. Set in a time-bending, darkly brooding world between heaven and hell, the play re-examines the plight and fate of the New Testament's most infamous and unexplained sinner. The play uses flashbacks to an imagined childhood, and lawyers who call for the testimonies of such witnesses as Mother Teresa, High Priest Caiaphas, Saint Monica, Sigmund Freud and Satan.

The cast of "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" stars Reed Campbell in the title role. I'm also told, throughout the run, there will also be surprise guest stars from both stage and screen.

Albain first directed "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" through the University of Michigan's Basement Arts Program in 2008. That production included actor Darren Criss, who has gone on to star on the FOX hit "Glee" and the recent Broadway revival of "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." This production used an online Kickstarter campaign to raise funds and a project goal of $36,000 was achieved in just four days and eventually went on conclude the campaign with $62,809 and 1,577 backers.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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