St. Patrick Church is offering the public two opportunities to experience a dramatization known as the Living Last Supper: Saturday, March 23 at 1 PM at St. Mary Church in Gaylord AND on Sunday, March 24 (Palm Sunday) at St. Patrick Church, Traverse City at 3 p.m.
In this living dramatization, the twelve apostles speak their minds to themselves, to each other and to the Lord in the light of the words that they have just heard Jesus speak, “One of you will betray Me.”
Leonardo De Vinci, versatile genius of the Renaissance, was born in Vinci, Italy in 1452. Though he excelled in many fields, he is most remembered today for two wonderful paintings: the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. In 1494, when Leonardo was 42, he was commissioned by the Duke of Milan to decorate the dining room of the convent church that was the favorite shrine of the Duke’s young bride. As an appropriate theme for this dining room, the painter chose The Last Supper. His painting was not intended to be a faithful reproduction of the original scene as it had taken place in the first century Palastine, but as it might have taken place in the 15th century Italy. He chose what he considered the most dramatic moment of The Last Supper.
Joyce Odell was the original organizer and director. She saw the performance in Florida when her mother directed the play for her parish there. Her mother had received a script from a friend in another state and the play’s author and origins are unknown. Odell, who had a long career in dance, music and the theater, chose to not hold auditions. Instead she began asking members of the parish who they thought would be good for a part. She then approached each man recommended and asked them to participate, talking to them to get a sense of which Apostle they would best portray.
Over sixty men have since participated as an Apostle over the past 20 years. All novices to the stage, these busy businessmen, fathers and husbands, and students, (additional notation regarding students, below) arrange their schedules for practices and grow beards, motivated by the chance to spread a holy message.
The play focuses on just a few seconds in time at The Last Supper when Jesus announced that someone would betray Him that night. After each shocking pronouncement, each Apostle in turn relives his history with Jesus, reviews his faith and agonizes that he may be the traitor.
Asked Harold Kranik, who has played Judas Iscariot for 9 years, says his favorite line that he says is “Should I ignore His remarks, or, like the others, should I piously, self-righteously, ask myself, is it I”? The reason why that is my favorite quote is because I want the audience to think deep about themselves. To think about how many times we betray Jesus. The guilt, the heaviness, the sadness, the anger, that some may experience is what I try to make the audience feel at the end of my performance. It’s an amazing feeling hearing people say to you “You have changed my life for the better, thank you”. And, “You made me so upset and mad about how you came across as Judas, but at the end you made me realize that we are all like Judas in many ways”. This is my favorite time of the year, and it’s because of the Living Last Supper. It’s changed my life for the better.
Asked Mark Eckhoff, who is returning for a third year as Simon the Zealot, why he participates in the Living Last Supper, he said “It gives insight into the personalities and lives of the Apostles in the most challenging time in their lives. The Apostles were the inner circle in the life of Christ but on this night everything changed. The fear and doubt is present in the words of each Apostle as they share their thoughts with the audience. In the Living Last Supper we all feel like we are witnessing that night as it unfolded with the Apostles sharing their private thoughts with us all. And I enjoy the fellowship.”
Asked Dan Brady, who is playing the role of Jesus, why he participates in the Living Last Supper, he said “It makes the special Lenten season even more special. My knowledge of the apostles and Last Supper has also increased 10 fold.” Dan’s favorite line that he says as Jesus, "So as I have done for you, you must now do for one another"