Can a small act of evil be redeemed by a greater good? Is free will compatible with God's will? And what happened to Judas' soul after he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?

These are the questions engaged in Carroll Community College's first theater production of the fall season, Stephen Adly Gurgis' "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot."


The play takes place in a modern courtroom in purgatory as lawyers battle it out over the final resting place for Judas' soul — heaven or hell.

Director Bill Gillett said he has been interested in putting on this production for years.

"I was in one of Stephen Adly Gurgis' plays as a professional actor, and that's where I met and fell in love with him," Gillett said. "It's such an interesting play. He writes about humans and the human condition; about the ramifications of shame and guilt, and what that does to us."

The play recasts Judas as a turn-of-the-millennium zealot, looking to throw the Romans out of Jerusalem, through violence if necessary.

"What if the reason he betrayed Jesus was to force Jesus to act and become the messiah they were told would save them?" Gillett asked.

Throughout the show, Judas sits silently inside the framework of an obelisk as a metaphysical prosecutor and defense attorney battle over his soul in a courtroom presided over by a Southern judge. The courtroom antics are frequently broken by flashbacks to Judas' past, where he is free to play scenes with his mother and the disciples.

Despite the potential for grimness, the play frequently engages with humor, infusing modern, and sometimes adult, language like usage of the word 'dope' in the year 8 A.D. and treating Mother Teresa as a kind-hearted, but hard-of-hearing voice of reason in the afterlife.

Matthew Iannone, of Sykesville, plays Judas, which he describes as one of the most difficult roles he's been asked to play.

"This is a very morally gray show. There are very few characters who are what you would consider classically right or wrong," Iannone said.

"Judas pushes the blame onto Jesus. He thought Jesus was more of a friend and less of a savior. He feels betrayed because Jesus could have stopped it at any time.

"It's very clear that Judas does love Jesus. He's not in hell because he was placed there, but because he feels he should be there. He was the right guy to make the wrong choice."

One of the first things audiences will notice upon walking into the Scott Center theater is the 20-foot barrier between the seating and the stage itself. The play is being produced in a style similar to black box theater. In the show, the audience is seated on stage on either side of the action creating 360-degree staging for the show.

The stage consists of a German Expressionistic courtroom set, steel gray and improbably exaggerated. On either side of the courtroom sits the audience, surrounding members of the purgatory jury.

Nicole Sliwka, of Manchester, who plays Judas' defense attorney Fabiana Aziza Cunningham, said the staging can be a little intimidating for the actors.


"It's a little difficult for me, because I like to look out into the audience and not see a face," Sliwka said. "When they're on stage, you can hear every single thing people are saying, and they can see everything you're doing."

Conversely, Iannone said he enjoys the intimacy the close quarters provide.

"When you're on stage, you can just look and see how something is impacting [the audience]. You don't have to wait for after the show. You are right there and can go off of what they're feeling," Iannone said. "The thing I learned going into this is that there is no way for everybody to see you and that's something you have to accept. You can still play to both sides evenly as long as you keep moving."

Sliwka said the show can appeal to adult audiences of all beliefs.

"I don't think you have to be extremely religious to understand what's going on. As long as you know who Judas is, as long as you know who Jesus is, you should be all right," Sliwka said. "If you don't know who Jesus is, this might not be the right show for you."

Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or

If You Go

What: "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Theater in the Scott Center, Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road, Westminster

Cost: $10 general admission. $5 seniors older than 65, faculty, staff and students with ID.

For more information: Visit or call 410-386-8575.