On Our Shelves Now
Cast: 4 men, 1 woman
Angel Cruz is a thirty-year-old bike messenger from NYC who has lost his best friend to a religious cult. At the opening of the play, he is in his second night of incarceration, awaiting trial for shooting the leader of that cult in the "ass." He is on his knees, alone and terrified, trying to say a prayer he no longer remembers to a God he has all but forgotten. Angel's public defender is Mary Jane Hanrahan, still relatively young but very nearly disillusioned. At their first meeting, she mistakes Angel for another case. Wounded by her pride and Angel's sharp attacks, she mangles this initial interview and walks out.
A crisis of conscience and an unresolved connection to her childhood brings her back, and Angel's heartfelt, persuasive arguments against the cult leader persuade her to champion his cause. By this time, the cult leader, Reverend Kim, has died on the operating table, and the charge against Angel is now murder. Angel has been beaten regularly by other
inmates and is discovered in his cell barely conscious with a bed sheet tied around his neck. He is transferred to a special twenty-three-hour lockdown wing of protective custody. His jailer is Valdez, a brutally direct prison guard who believes in a world of black and white only. No grey areas permitted. Valdez has taken the post of Charlie D'amico, a guard Angel never meets. For one hour a day, Angel experiences daylight from a cage on the Riker's Island Prison roof. His only source of human contact is the lone inmate who is also in protective custody. Lucius Jenkins, a.k.a. "the Black Plague," works
out furiously in the cage next to Angel. A sociopathic serial killer awaiting extradition to Florida, Lucius pauses from his workouts only to chain smoke and to "save" Angel.
Lucius Jenkins has found God, and Angel's life and the course of his trial will be changed forever.
About the Author
Stephen Adly Guirgis is a longtime member of NYC's LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. They include: the extended, sold-out run of THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, OUR LADY OF 121st STREET (named one of the ten best plays of 2003; Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations), JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN (Edinburgh Fringe First Award, Olivier Nomination as London's Best New Play, Barrymore Award, "Detroit Free Press" Best Play Award), and IN ARABIA WE'D ALL BE KINGS (Ten Best of '99, "TimeOut New York," critics pick, "TimeOut London"). All four plays were originally produced by LAByrinth, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and are published through Dramatists Play Service and by Faber & Faber. Stephen was awarded a 2004 TCG fellowship, attended the 2004 Sundance Screenwriter's Lab, was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by "Filmaker Magazine," and appeared in "Entertainment Weekly’s" 2005 Summer Must List. He has received new play commissions from Manhattan Theater Club and South Coast Rep, is a member of New Dramatists and the MCC Playwright’s Coalition, and has contributed to "ESOPUS" magazine. Television writing credits include “NYPD Blue,” “The Sopranos,” David Milch’s CBS drama “Big Apple,” and Shane Salerno's NBC drama “UC: Undercover.” As an actor, he has appeared in Brett C. Leonard’s GUINEA PIG SOLO, produced at the Public Theatre in New York, and played leading roles inTodd Solondz's "Palindromes," and Brett C. Leonard's award-winning "Jailbait," opposite Michael Pitt. He lives in New York City.
"…fire-breathing…[a] probing, intense portrait of lives behind bars…whenever it appears that JESUS is settling into familiar territory, it slides right beneath expectations into another, fresher direction. It has the courage of its intellectual restlessness…[JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN] has been written in flame." —NY Times.