Judas and Peter
by Josh Gaudreau
(scene opens in a tableau. We see Peter sitting on the steps, untangling some fishing net in his hands. Judas is standing close by on the stage, his hand on the bridge of his nose as if he has a headache. There is a rope at his feet. Once the scene begins, the actors should not freeze again, even when they don’t have lines. They should not acknowledge each other at all; these are two monologues playing concurrently. Judas sighs a deep breath, then begins:)
Judas (very distraught throughout): I didn’t think they were going to kill him! I just wanted them to… I just wanted… I couldn’t help myself! It wasn’t my fault, really! (angry) Thirty pieces of silver. They give me thirty pieces of silver, and then condemn him to death? It wasn’t supposed to be that way!
Peter (melancholic throughout): Knives piercing my heart were those words he spoke. Deny him three times? How could I do that? Never, Lord! And yet, I did…and, I don’t know why. When I saw him, the way they were treating him, I got scared. I would die for you! I told him. I even went to protect him in the garden, but he told me to put away my sword. I can face a fight, even a losing one, but to just give up… I couldn’t face that. So I ran.
Judas (almost pleading): Why did he choose me, anyway? Couldn’t he see what was in my heart? What’s always been there? I didn’t want that though. I wanted to be different, I wanted to be free! I wanted him to make me free… but he didn’t. Greed, festering like a monster deep within my heart. Doubts plaguing my thoughts, (angry:) while those other three seemed so sure of themselves. Maybe if he’d favored me like he did them I wouldn’t’ve been like this. Yeah, maybe then I wouldn’t’ve done what I did.
Peter: We all ran. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, was it? Wasn’t he the Son of God? Wasn’t he the Messiah we’ve been waiting for? Wasn’t he going to change the world? We all ran away… but I was the only one who’d promised I wouldn’t. And then I heard the rooster crow… I heard it crow, and in that instant I remembered what he’d said, and… I wanted to die. I couldn’t take it back… What kind of man am I?
Judas (cold anger): He didn’t have to rebuke me like that, either. Not in front of everyone. Not for why he did. (getting worked up as he says this line, with a slight mocking:) “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God”, he said. “Give all you have to the poor and you will be perfect,” he said. “When you throw a feast invite the poor,” he said, and yet when that whore pours out a fortune’s worth of perfume on his feet, he rebukes me instead of her! (pause as he composes himself. Fawning:) “Master,” I said, “this perfume could’ve been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.” (angry again:) You know what he replied? “Be quiet, because she’s done a beautiful thing to me.” He actually said that! (he picks up the rope, and begins to worry it in his hands)
Peter: What kind of man am I? To see what I’ve seen, his miracles, his signs… To feel what I’ve felt… To know what I know and yet still I wasn’t strong enough! ‘Petros,’ he called me, ‘on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” On what rock? My heart is worse than shifting sand, and the gates of hell have prevailed in me! Augh! (slight pause, calmer:) No, no. Not yet. Not completely.
Judas: Thirty pieces of silver to betray a man to death. I didn’t mean for it to be that way. (slight pause) That look in his eyes when I met him…
Peter (following Judas’ line quickly): I never meant to deny him, but in that moment, when they accused me, said I was with him, I…I panicked. I loved my life more…
Judas (following Peter’s line quickly): That sound in his voice when he asked “do you betray me with a kiss?”
Peter (following Judas’ line quickly): And then he looked at me. The cock crowed, and he looked at me, and I saw the hurt in his eyes…
Judas and Peter (following Peter’s line quickly): What have I done…
Judas (hopeless): What choice do I have now? I can’t… I can’t… (with self-hatred, looking at the rope:) Judas, you dog, you monster, what you are about to do, go and do quickly! (he exits with the rope)
Peter: I failed him. (with hope:) I failed him then, but not again. He is the Messiah, and even though he is gone… But, what will I do now? (pause. He suddenly looks offstage, as if noticing other people, then looks down at the net, and then back offstage. Calling towards offstage as he exits with the net:) Brothers, brothers! Let’s go catch some fish.