The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Searches for Meaning Posted on February 16th, 2022 by

PC: Ryan Weber '22 Gena King '22 and Eli Simon '24 in "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot."

Who deserves forgiveness? Is forgiveness something you earn? Seeking to answer these questions and more is Gustavus Adolphus College’s latest production, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis, opening February 17. 

Set in purgatory, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot follows a court case determining if Judas should be forgiven for betraying Jesus, or condemned for all eternity. “It asks whether or not forgiveness is a concept that we can grant other individuals, or whether or not it is an internal idea that has to come from the individual first,” said director Ernest Briggs. Asking larger questions about religion, society, and justice, the play features characters ranging from Jesus, Judas, and Satan to Mother Teresa and Sigmund Freud. 

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is about humanity’s search for meaning,” said Briggs. “The play was written in 2005 but it very much reflects the life and times we are living in right now in terms of the conversations we are all still having amongst ourselves.”

Thomas Sullivan ’23, who plays Jesus of Nazareth, focused on adding spirituality to his performance. “The show really challenges you to look into yourself and explore your own morality and ideology,” he said.

Rehearsing over Gustavus’s January Term, the cast of 15 students were able to dive deeper into the script with daily rehearsals. “We spent a good amount of time in the rehearsal process just talking about the complex ideas in the script, including ideas on forgiveness, ideas on religion, ideas on society, ideas on our judicial system and concepts of justice,” said Briggs.

As a visiting assistant professor, Briggs offers a fresh style for Gustavus Theatre & Dance. “With all the discussions we had over the course of the month, I found myself asking questions and wanting to explore other possible answers,” said Courtney Leonard ’22, who plays Mother Teresa and Gloria. “This open-minded way of working has helped me add depth to my characters and overall made this experience unlike any other theater experience I’ve had here at Gustavus.”

Briggs hopes the show sparks conversation among the audience members. “In my experience, the best shows are the ones that after you’re done watching them, you go home and say, ‘Let’s talk about that show.’”

Performances of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot are February 17-19 at 8 p.m. and February 19-20 at 2 p.m. in the Rob and Judy Gardner Laboratory Theatre. Tickets are on sale now at

PLEASE NOTE: All ticket holders must show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test result received within 72 hours of the performance, and a valid photo ID to attend the performance. Masks must be worn at all times, regardless of vaccination status.

Content Warning: This production contains mature content, themes, and language. Viewers may be challenged and/or offended by character depictions and behaviors that include direct and indirect references to religion, race, sexual harassment, sexual identity, mental health, and suicide that may be triggering for audience members. 


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