Friday, March 04, 2011

jesus hopped the 'a' train | artistic director notes

When I first read this play, I was stunned. From the abrasive, line-crossing opening to the shattering, uncompromising conclusion, I felt I had never read a play like this. I felt, if I could have written any one play in the world to cut deepest, get closest to the centre of what I fear and believe about this world and the next, this would be that play.

I was also galled. That Pacific Theatre couldn't produce it. No, not because of the language or themes. (Are you kidding? You must be new here...) But because it's a piece that demands very specific actors in particular roles, and for the life of me I couldn't come up with the cast to pull it off. Not the way it deserved to be done.

Until a year ago, when Rob Olguin and I were scheming about the launch of his new theatre, Glass City, PT's "Company In Residence," and he brought forward Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train. And said he had the guy to play Lucius. And I knew Rob would be right for Angel. And that long-held regret didn't have to be a regret any longer.

And how ideal it was. Our conversation came only a few months after that other Stephen Adly Guirgis play, The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, had rocked Pacific Theatre, and the possibility of following up that landmark show with the Catholic bad boy's defining work seemed... Divine.

So fasten your seatbelts. (Do they have seatbelts on subways? Okay...) Grab a pole or one of those hanging strap thingies, and hold on for dear life. We're heading back into Guirgis-land.

Welcome, Glass City. Welcome, Jesus. Welcome back, Mr Guirgis. And watch the closing doors....

Ron Reed,
Artistic & Executive Director,
Pacific Theatre

PS I'll let you in on a little secret. There are conversations happening about a full production of The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot a year from now - a co-production involving FIVE Vancouver theatres. It'll be a miracle if we can pull it off. But then, we're used to those around here....

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