Outcast International actors back in action in Germany, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Published Jul 30, 2017 at 9:00am

VERONA — Outcast International actors from central New York, the United Kingdom and Germany will perform for the second time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but this time will offer previews in Germany before traveling on to Scotland.

The piece being presented, The last Days of Judas Iscariot was performed by an all-American cast in Oneida in April as an invitation-only free preview.

“By performing to a group of close friends and theater colleagues, we were able to get some valuable, honest feedback, which has helped us take the show to the next level,” said Outcast producer/director Eileen Tiller-Canton.

Outcast International was founded by Tiller-Clanton in Munich, Germany in 1995, and from 1996 through 2002 offered authentic, English-language theater in dozens of European venues. In 2009 Outcast presented its first U.S. production in central New York, and since has brought 15 plays and musicals to various local stages. Its 2015 production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” was it’s first European performance in 13 years.

“It was an amazing experience, throwing performers from both sides of the Atlantic together to perform at the festival,” Tiller-Clanton said. “We learned so much, and we knew we wanted to do it again. This time, we’re spending a week in Stuttgart to give the actors more time together, plus our performances there offer yet another opportunity for feedback.”

Local performers include Todd Allen of Canastota, Thom Capozzella of Utica, Wyatt Galusky of Clinton, Ben Hirshfield of Clinton, Diaka Kaba Hill of Utica, Randy Leers of Whitesboro, Matt Grove of Utica, Denise Morganti of Rome, and Suzanne Rodio of Herkimer. They will be joined overseas by Outcast Europe performers Lisa MacDonald, Linda Keller, Stuart Marlow, Christopher Keller, Regina Grieb, Martin Stettner and Laurel MacDonald. The set pieces for the production — which are collapsible and lightweight for easy transport — were designed by John Frank of Rome and painted by Lynne Angell of Holland Patent. The costumes were designed by Fran Wagner of Utica. The production costs were covered via a Hatchfund campaign, while travel/hotel accommodations are being covered by the actors.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a comedy-drama written by Pulitzer-winning New York author Stephen Adly Guirgis. The play explores the question: Should history’s most famous betrayer continue to languish in hell, or can a case be made for his redemption? A trial set in Purgatory between God and the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth vs. Judas Iscariot calls a variety of witnesses to give testimony, including Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud, Pontius Pilate, and even Satan.

“We’ve chosen a brilliant ensemble piece,” said Tiller-Clanton. “It’s relevant, modern, gritty and at times uncomfortable, but ultimately it’s about love and forgiveness conquering all, a theme I find myself drawn to, as I choose plays for Outcast. It’s also very funny. It will be interesting to see how that humor translates to international audiences.”

The Outcast presentation of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot will be performed at the Friedenau in Stuttgart from Aug. 2-3, then at Paradise in Augustine’s in Edinburgh from Aug 5-12.

“As in 2015, we’ll use social media and our website www.outcasttheater.com to let folks at home know how we’re doing,” Tiller-Canton said. “We’re grateful to all who supported us via our Hatchfund campaign and who offered feedback at our preview. When we come back, we hope to perform the piece again, so that our supporters can see what we finally came up with. I’m exploring different possibilities for a venue.”