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A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questionsby James Martin
Synopses & Reviews
A Jesuit priest, a New York play, and questions as profound as they come . . .
A few years after being called to the priesthood, Father James Martin was startled to get a very different kind of call one evening in 2004: a phone call from actor Sam Rockwell. Rockwell had been cast for the part of Judas Iscariot in an Off-Broadway play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, where Judas was on trial for his crime of betraying Jesus. Would Martin be willing to serve as a theological consultant for the play? Martin gladly obliged, and within weeks playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, director Philip Seymour Hoffman, and members of the cast began to dialogue with Martin about a host of spiritual issues that the play evoked: Can we believe the Bible? What was Jesus’ mission? What is sin? Does hell exist? Is anyone beyond God’s forgiveness?
A Jesuit Off-Broadway recounts Martin’s six months with the LAByrinth Theater Company and his education in the making of a play, from the writing of the script to the cast party on closing night. At the same time, the occasionally profane and routinely free-spirited creative team and actors learned from Martin key insights into Christian faith and theology, while often revealing a profoundly spiritual side to their lives. By the time the final curtain fell, Martin and the cast had gleaned important and at times surprising lessons from each other as they realized how the sacred and the secular aren’t always that far apart . . . and how, in the end, questions tell us more than answers ever do.
"'Martin, an author and Jesuit priest, lifts the curtain on theater life in this account of his experiences as theological adviser to an off-Broadway play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. It was the role of a lifetime for Martin, who had access to all the players involved in the production from the first readings to the play's five-week run in 2005. Although the play, which deals with the fate of the disciple who betrayed Christ, is compelling in and of itself, the way Martin combines the story line with historical detail and conversations with the actors, playwright and director is utterly captivating. Martin takes readers inside the play and into the minds of the key players, showing everything from glimpses into their spiritual lives to their reactions to the mixed reviews the play received. As a writer, editor and parish priest, Martin was obviously stage-struck by his encounter with the theater. But his transparency is sweet and refreshing, particularly when he talks about the ways in which the play affected him spiritually. His ability to translate and dissect the gospel story of Judas for a troupe of thespians echoes through his writing, making this a book that is bound to draw applause from a diverse audience. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
A Jesuit Off-Broadway recounts Fr. Martin's thrilling six months with the LAByringth Theater Company, as it created and performed The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, which had a sold-out five-week run in New York. As the playwright, director, and actors struggled to understand theological issues and ideas, they strove to convey them in an artistically convincing way to a largely secular audience. Through it all, Fr. Martin learned lessons about theater and life, about how the sacred and the secular aren't always that far apart, and how questions often tell us more than answers do.
In A Jesuit Off-Broadway, James Martin, SJ, writes about advising the cast and crew of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. See theology and theater mix.
An Off-Broadway cast has plenty of questions about life and faith—and Fr. James Martin is just the right person to offer some answers.
Can we believe the Bible? Does hell exist? What is sin? A Jesuit Off-Broadway provides answers to these and more questions as it recounts Fr. Martin’s thrilling six months with New York’s LAByrinth Theater Company. Asked to serve as the theological consultant for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Fr. Martin soon discovers that everyone from the playwright to the actors has pressing questions they want answered.
Over the course of the many weeks leading up to opening night and during the play’s sold-out run, all who are involved in the play come to understand that the sacred and the secular aren’t so far apart after all—and that Fr. Martin is much more than an invaluable adviser: he’s a genuine friend.
What happens when theater and theology share the stage?
Discover the answer in this thought-provoking memoir by Christopher Award–winning author and Jesuit priest James Martin. Take a front-row seat to Father Martin’s six-month experience as a theological consultant for the New York theater production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, directed by Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, and starring Sam Rockwell and Eric Bogosian. While Martin thoughtfully responds to the deeply spiritual and soul-searching questions posed to him by the creative team and actors—questions that many of us ponder at one time or another in our lives—he learns about the world of professional theater and all that is required to put on a successful play.
Join Father Martin as he takes this fascinating foray into the acting arena . . . and offers answers to some of life’s biggest questions.
Many of us have questions about the Bible: Can we believe the Bible? What was Jesus’ mission? What is sin? Does hell exist? Is anyone beyond God’s forgiveness? In A Jesuit Off-Brodway, James Martin, SJ, answers these questions about the Bible, and other big questions about life, as he serves as a theological advisor to the cast of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.
Grab a front-row seat to Fr. Martin's six months with the LAByrinth Theater Company and see first-hand what it's like to share the faith with a largely secular group of people . . . and discover, along with Martin, that the sacred and the secular aren't always that far apart.
About the Author
James Martin, SJ, is associate editor of America magazine. A prolific author, writer, and editor, his books include Searching for God at Ground Zero, In Good Company, My Life with the Saints, and A Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and his articles have appered in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Tablet, and Commonweal. He resides in New York City.
Stephen Adly Guirgis is an American playwright, screenwriter, and actor. He is a member and co-artistic director of New York City's LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. His plays include The Little Flower of East Orange, Our Lady of 121st Street, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot produced by LAByrinth in collaboration with The Public Theater in 2005.
Table of Contents
Dramatis Personae ix
Foreword by Stephen Adly Guirgis xi
Act 1: Into the Deep End 1
About Judas 7
The Birth of a God-Haunted Play 15
The Making of a Playwright 19
Who Killed Jesus? 28
A Study in Despair 41
“I Don’t Know, Man . . .” 49
Act 2: Teasing the Mind into Active Thought 53
The LAByrinth Theater Company 54
“You Wanna Do This Role?” 61
The Gospel According to Phil 66
Searching for God, Jesus, and the Buddha 71
The Jesus of History 80
Living with the Saints 87
The Woman from Magdala 93
Poverty of Spirit 100
Taking the Story Seriously 106
Jesuit Theater, a Nearly Forgotten History 119
Act 3: Fully Human, Fully Divine 127
The Hope of Results 128
Who Is Jesus, Anyway? 137
Satan Appears 153
Ready for Previews? 159
A Christological Crisis 164
Act 4: The Messiah Has a Cold 167
Chastity and Friendship 170
Traditions and Superstitions 171
A Theatrical Vocation 174
Reviewing Detachment 177
Walking Mookie at Night 190
Act 5: Hearts on Fire 201
Last Full Script Ever 202
Dramatic Faith 212
Faithful Drama 217
Just a Little More Faith 222
For Further Reading 231
About the Author 237
Who Are the Jesuits, Anyway? 239
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