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A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions [Hardcover]

By James Martin (Author) & Stephen Adly Guirgis (Foreword by)
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Item description for A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions by James Martin & Stephen Adly Guirgis...

A Jesuit Off-Broadway" recounts Fr. Martins thrilling six months with the LAByrinth Theater Company, as it created and performed "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot," which had a sold-out five-week run Off-Broadway in New York.

Publishers Description

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.

From Publishers Weekly
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. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Awards and Recognitions
A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions by James Martin & Stephen Adly Guirgis has received the following awards and recognitions -

  • ForeWord Book of the Year Award - 2007 Third Place - Religion category

Citations And Professional Reviews
A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions by James Martin & Stephen Adly Guirgis has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 07/09/2007 page 50
  • Booklist - 09/01/2007 page 38
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books - 11/05/2007 page 34

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Loyola Press
Pages   252
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.32" Height: 1.01"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 10, 2007
Publisher   Loyola Press
ISBN  0829425829  
ISBN13  9780829425826  

Availability  3 units.
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More About James Martin & Stephen Adly Guirgis

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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.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts > Theater > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Drama > Religious & Liturgical
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Inspirational

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Reviews - What do customers think about A Jesuit Off-Broadway?

Being All Things to All People: Jesuits and Actors  Jun 9, 2008
A JESUIT OFF-BROADWAY, by Fr. James Martin, S.J., an associate editor at the highly respected Catholic weekly, AMERICA, and the author of the excellent MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS, concerns the Jesuit priest's unexpected involvement with the production of what would become a popular (if not universally well received) off-Broadway play, THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT. Martin participated in the production of the play from the later writing stages through the end of its off-Broadway run, and his reflections on the development of the play, on the people who brought it to life, and on its subject matter comprise the content of the book.

The production's lead, Sam Rockwell, who played Judas, first contacted Martin through a tip from one of Rockwell's mother's friends. Soon Martin was brought on board as the play's theological advisor, engaging in lively discussions with the playwright (the highly lauded Stephen Adly Guirgis), the actors, and the director (the famous and talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman) on theological issues pertaining to the death of Jesus, and on the lives of the saints who make appearances in the play. These discussions give Martin an opportunity to refresh his graduate theology studies, and, for the purpose of this book, visit these sorts of issues with the readership. Over time, as Martin and the cast become more acquainted with each other, Martin's role expands to include friend, counselor, and chaplain.

As Martin reflects on his evolving role, he realizes that he is fulfilling the very nature of the Jesuit vocation as expressed in Ignatius of Loyola's directive, evoking Saint Paul, "to be all things to all men," ready to go anywhere and do anything. He remembers that the history of the Society of Jesus (the formal name of the Jesuit order) was closely intertwined with the theater (particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Jesuits were known for their collegiate theatrical productions), and that the very nature of performance has its correlative in imagination, which is at the core of Ignatian spirituality (with all one's senses, "experiencing" life alongside Jesus).

To be sure, Martin's book allows the reader vicariously to experience what it's like to become chummy with famous actors. But to Martin's credit, the theater people with whom Martin interacts come alive in his narrative as real people, not as celebrities. Unfortunately, I think, Martin himself maintains a relatively low profile in his story. Indeed, I would have found it interesting to read, to a greater extent than I found in the book, what reflections Martin's experiences working on this play caused him to have on the meaningfulness of his vocation as a Christian, as a Jesuit, and as a priest.

Though not quite as rich as MY LIFE WITH THE SAINTS, this latest work by James Martin is absolutely worth reading. It is a slight book, something I might suggest to tuck away in one's bag to take to the beach--instead of the potboiler--and so come away feeling edified. No matter what time of year, though, the reader with both an interest in the theater and in Christian theology--or, for that matter, who ever wondered what Jesuits do--will be enthralled by this book.
An Interesting Account Of Ministry  Apr 23, 2008
Often people are not all that curious as to what makes a heroic character heroic. Perhaps it's because the bold actions of a heroic person can speak for themselves. Take Rosa Parks as an example. It doesn't matter why Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, an action that spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement. Her action is enough. However, when it comes to traitors, we're more than curious. Why did Brutus betray Julius Caesar, his close friend? Some historians claim Benedict Arnold could have been a great leader in a new nation? Why did he turn sides? Of all traitors/betrayers/turncoats in history, the one who causes the most speculation is Judas Iscariot, the infamous (?) apostle who sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Judas' actions have caused questions, questions that are centuries old, as the recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas demonstrates. We wonder, why did Judas do what he did? Was he jealous of Jesus? Disappointed? Was he trying to cause Jesus to act? Stephen Adley Guirgis pondered the question of Judas and the result was the play THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT. The play is set in a courtroom and Judas is put on trial, giving him the opportunity to either explain his actions or perhaps seek forgiveness. Guirgis wanted accuracy so he sought out a "theological advisor." Jesuit priest James Martin seemed well suited for the task and the book tells the story of his first becoming involved in the project to his follow through when the curtain falls for the last time.

Martin weaves a number of different threads together as he shares his experiences as an advisor for the play. Readers see how a play develops from an idea to a finished product, growing and changing numerous times along the way. We also get a glimpse at how a theater company works, in this case the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York City, and the varied personalities that populate the group. We see the frustrations of the company as the play develops ever so slowly, as well as the way it finally takes shape. Martin also introduces readers to current biblical scholarship regarding the New Testament as well as concerns regarding contemporary biblical interpretation.

The book's greatest strength is not the information about scripture, nor is it in how a play comes to life, as compelling as both can be. Throughout the book we see relationships develop between Martin and the writers and cast. We learn of their struggles with faith for some and the strong faith of others. We see Martin go from being an advisor, almost an outsider looking in, to an integral member of the production and in a real way we see communal bonds develop. Martin is changed from the encounter, and no doubt the others involved were too.

While A JESUIT OFF-BROADWAY tells a number of different stories, James Martin's ministry as a priest is what holds the book together, and for me it's a compelling read. Priests serve God in a myriad of ways, and while it may be a bit cliché, a priest never knows how God will be found in any given situation. James Martin's task was to answer questions so a play on a religious matter would be theologically accurate. Far more happens in this book, and as the book progresses, the advising becomes less and less but relationships develop and God's hand can be seen at work and God's presence can be found. This is the ministry of a priest, regardless of the setting. It is what happened during the production of THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT and it is what happens in parishes, schools, hospitals, prisons, and just about anywhere else priestly ministry takes place.
Conversion Big-Time  Mar 3, 2008
Because of Fr. Martin's presence with the cast, each member grew tremendously in their faith. I recommend this to all Clergy. Father William T. Burke, S.J.
A wondrous journey into two worlds  Jan 4, 2008
Jesuit priest James Martin presents A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage With Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions, a memoir recounting the six months during which he served 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. Even as Martin taught his charges about religion and spirituality, he learned about the amazing labor of love that is the theater, as well as the toll it takes upon a cast and crew to pour their blood, sweat and tears into a successful play. A wondrous journey into two worlds: the world of the stage and the inner world of the humanity's soul-searching questions.
Another Great Work from James Martin!  Dec 16, 2007

While strikingly different from his previous work, both in subject and method, this book about his experience working with the cast and crew of an off-broadway show called the "Last Days of Judas Iscariot," is phenomenal. It has been a while since I last read one of Jim Martin's books - the last major one was "Becoming Who You Are," which was sort of an expansion of some of his thoughts in "My Life With the Saints" - I immediately fell into the rhythm of his writing style. He writes in a very approachable and down-to-earth way that is neither insulting nor overly complicated. It is an intelligent mix of narrative based on his personal experience of growth with this acting troupe and theological insights that arose during the process and afterward by way of theological reflection.

Like every other book written by Martin, I highly recommend this one!! Even before I read it, I purchased 3 copies of it for gifts for people, knowing that a book by James Martin will not disappoint. Enjoy this book!

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