Monthly Archives: May 2008

A Huge Thank You

Thank you to Stephen Adly Guirgis for writing The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and giving us the chance to work on this play which is at once deeply personal and universally broad.

The Cast of Judas takes their Last Bow

Thank you to our cast for making each and every performance passionate, moving, special and for opening up to each other both on stage every night and here on the blog.

The Last Supper

Thank you to our director John Vreeke for your amazing work understanding and translating the musicality of the text onto the stage, for helping to provide the actors with the tools and confidence they needed. Thank you to the designers, company members and Forum board members for your hard work making the production complete.

Forum Ticket Scalper

And a huge thank you to our audience for helping to make The Last Days of Judas Iscariot the most successful production in Forum history. We appreciate your joining us and your reactions and excitement about the production helped to make this a hugely rewarding experience.


An Epilogue from Veronica del Cerro

Photo Credit: Melissa Blackall Photography

Our final Notes from the Cast come from Veronica del Cerro who played Santa Monica, the sassy force of nature who really got our story rolling when she got on the phone to the Big Guy upstairs. Though Veronica had sent the piece in over a week ago, it got held up in the shuffle with all the box office madness that comes with sold out houses. But the timing actually couldn’t be better, as her words serve as a perfect reflection on one Hell of a journey…

“What is God?”
“Sit properly in you chair. If you want to break it, I’ll get you an ax. It will be easier.”
With my chair’s four legs safely on the ground, I repeated the question.
“What is God?”
“God. God is everything you see and everything you are.”
“So this chair is God?”
“Yes. The chair, the table, the food, and you.”
With not a clue as to what that meant I continued to eat my tongue. (Yes, I was made to eat cow tongue with cream sauce when I was 6).

Now, although I am a pescatarian and still do love to swing on chairs, I cherish my father’s words like gold (or silver?). They have become the root of my belief system and I am ever awed at how each day sheds new light on this fundamental idea. I was raised to question, but have found that I actually only have one truth; the answers are not mine to have.

The spirituality, for lack of a better and less popular term, that I have cultivated has been crafted out of experience and necessity. From listening to political and familial stories that have trickled down through the generations, exploring the variety of reading material my parents had available, from my own journeys into the depths of the underworld, and from my family’s love, I have gathered a notion of acceptance.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot examines the reality of our existance through theatre by allowing these iconic characters to identify with audiences of today. I find that Saint Monica’s pride grows from seeing her underdog loved ones persevere and by holding them, or high-fiving them, while they continue to confront the prejudices that have exploded in their self-schemas. If one is willing to come clean with their own selves, then Saint Monica is willing to provide a tear, a prayer, and some hope.

We are reminded that Judas is one constant: the guilt, shame, and remorse for mixed identities, alcoholism, lust, love, for truth, confusion, poverty, difference, ignorance… Jesus is the other constant: our hope, our will to accept ourselves for who we are and might become. Whether we chose to remain in the purgatory of our own perception, or to be free by embracing uncertainty is the inner trial we all face. Ultimately, your reality is what you make it to be.

“Ms. Veronica, you are in stage-play again, aren’t you?” my 7 year old student asked me as the fractions worksheets were handed out.
“Yes, I am. That’s why I am looking a little tired today. Please get your pencil box.”
“Ms.Veronica, what is your new stage-play called?”
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Now, put your name on your paper.”
“What’s it about?”

Since I was a little surprised and excited about his newfound interest in my theatrical adventures, I decided to answer as quickly and honestly as I could.
“It is about…ummm..a group of people who had a friend hurt their feelings. Now, they are trying to decide whether or not to forgive him.”
“Oh, so it’s a Feeling Play.”
“Well..uh..” As I began to give a more precise explanation, I saw that he had already moved on from the subject and was writing his initials on his sheet.

“Yes. If that is what it means to you, then that is exactly what it is.”

Notes from the Cast: Patrick Bussink

Photo Credit: Melissa Blackall Photography

Patrick is a company member here at Forum and is playing our Lord and Savior Himself, Jesus of Nazareth.

I figured since it takes me about 2 1/2 hours to mosey out and join the cast onstage, I’d take a couple of weeks to make my entrance to these here cyber-procedings. Better late than never…

So please the court, my name is Patrick and I too am a Catho-hol-ic. Yes, like Guirgis himself and almost half the cast, I also hail from the mothership. I went to Catholic school, did all the sacraments, went to church every week, went to youth group meetings and summer camps building houses for the poor, and I worked in the parish rectory for a couple of years in High School before heading off to College, where all good Catholics go to fall away from the flock.

But despite my pious youth, there were always those pesky questions to wrestle. Questions which got me into trouble in grade school. Questions like: if God is all powerful and merciful and He gave me the capacity for sin and a mind to question his existence, then how could he burn me eternally for acting as He created me (or however I said it when I was 10)? Saint Thomas doubted and he was there. Now 2,000 years later, aren’t I allowed the same measure of doubt, if not more? A LOT more? And one other question: would god strike me down if I didn’t capitalize his name?

Owning my doubt and skepticism has been a huge part of deepening my faith—even though I rarely use the words “my faith”; it’s an ongoing challenge of reconciling what’s been passed down with what actually resonates deep down. Somewhere early on I heard that “faith is not faith unless it’s questioned,” which became my motto. And yet despite my beef with all the dogma, the core teachings of Christ have always been a guiding force: Love thy neighbor as thyself…Judge not lest ye be judged…Blessed are the peacemakers. Those are the big 3 as far as I’m concerned—they’re also the 3 that so many “Christians” seem to forget, which is one of the reasons people get turned off walk away.

As I grew away from the Church in my early 20’s, I went off on a sort of spiritual shopping spree and like a lot of people, I dabbled in eastern traditions—I got into Taoism, Buddhism, meditation & yoga and devoured a slew of new-agey books that rocked my world. All this searching continued to challenge the hogwash of institutional Christianity, while deepening my belief in all the good stuff that stuck with me. And it raised even more questions: is there really a difference between: prayer and meditation? salvation and enlightenment? the holy spirit and the Dharma? Do Jesus and Buddha hang out?

What I’ve come around to is that regardless of country or culture, the real point of religion is to raise our consciousness and bring us into the presence of the eternal, the divine, the universal mind, God, whatever you want to call it. That’s why I’m always drawn to the mystical traditions of any faith—the Sufi poets of Islam, Francis of Assisi and the Jesuits, the Gnostics, and even some pagan traditions. Every religion has its mystics and saints and every religion has its fundamentalists for whom their faith is no more than a battleground and a weapon of fear. Because religion is ultimately a language to communicate with God, and just as no language can rid the world of miscommunication and confusion, no religion is a direct and perfect channel to the divine.

And religion is definitely not the only channel we have. The arts—storytelling, poetry, music, painting, dance—all share the goal of reaching a higher consciousness. That’s why religion has always incorporated the arts, because they help us communicate with the intangible and what’s more intangible than this thing we call God? In our modern culture, we often separate art and religion—there’s a mutual contempt that’s sadly grown between the two. This show has been a beautiful meeting of those two worlds for me, a place where storytelling, poetry and a little music come together in a room to wrestle with some really big questions.