Towards the end of last year, I mentioned that the idea had been mooted of a passion play on Cowley Road at Easter 2012. There was quite a gap over the Christmas period but the idea is beginning to pick up momentum and the first drama rehearsal took place this afternoon. If it all comes together, the play will take place at six locations down Cowley Road (which has to be Oxford’s most vibrantly cosmopolitan street) on Good Friday, acting out a number of scenes from the Easter story.
My part in all this? I get to play Judas Iscariot, a non-speaking part but with several bits of acting to do in the first couple of scenes. The direction of this particular working of the story takes quite a sympathetic view of this disciple, viewing him as someone who doesn’t think of his actions as a betrayal so much as creating an opportunity to set up a meeting with the temple authorities which might move things forward and encourage Jesus to put on his kingly messianic mantle.
I am not quite convinced. The gospel narratives seem to me to paint a less forgiving picture, showing someone who has long been dipping his hand into the disciples’ moneybag (abusing his role as their treasurer) and who is willing to sell Jesus to the authority for thirty pieces of silver. Of course, the point of the passion play is not to explore the nature of Judas.