The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

by Stephen Adly Gurgis

Director’s Notes, August 2014

Sin and Trouble

“The Last days of Judas Iscariot” was a play I had been desperately trying to avoid for at least five years. Each time I read a page of the script I would immediately slam it shut in absolute horror. The play was a coldblooded massacre and I couldn’t imagine anyone in his or her right mind wanting to wrestle with such a beast, but no matter how much I tried to hide from it, it wouldn’t go away. It wouldn’t go away, or leave me alone, or make nice with someone else, or simply disappear while I wasn’t looking, and then Phillip Seymour Hoffman died and I had the rights to the play within an hour. The brilliant Mr. Hoffman had directed the premier of the play by his own LAByrinth theatre company at the Public Theatre in New York City in 2005. By some accounts it was the beast that no one in his or her right mind should have wrestled with and a bit of a train wreck, but to others it was a piece of modernist jazz that would be appreciated with time. Most of my theatrical influences have been musicians and writers for some reason, apart from Mr., Hoffman, that is. He was the one that left me speechless. He was the one that left me green and raging with jealousy at his talent. He was the one living my life. Fortunately, I didn’t have the heart to tell him any of this so he was none the wiser, thank god. Instead, I decided to direct this production of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” so I could momentarily bring him back to life and feel tears well in my eyes. He gave me so much. He gave me so much more.

-michael french