Joplin Sibtain plays Valdez in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train at The Young Vic. This critically-acclaimed dark comedy about the American justice system and the contradictory nature of faith is directed by Kate Hewitt and runs from 14th February until 30th March 2019.

You play Valdez in Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, what can you tell us about the play?

It’s an American play written by Stephen Adly Guirgis that first premiered off-Broadway in November 2000. The action takes place in a prison on Rikers Island, New York.

Tell us about your character?

I play a character called Valdez. He’s a former garbage collector working as a correction officer on Rikers island. He’s a disciplinarian who believes that the penal system is there to punish and not rehabilitate.

How did you go about researching the role?

I read a book called ‘Corruption Officer: from jail guard to perpetrator inside Rikers Island’ by a Gary L. Heyward. The memoir of a correction officer in Rikers Island who has experienced life on both sides of the law.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the role for you?

The most challenging aspect of the role has been trying to find a justification in the actions of the character. He’s an incredibly brutal man who’s black and white thinking can lead him to bouts of sadism. He is however dealing with highly dangerous criminals and needs to be strong and authoritarian in order to survive in a hostile environment.

What has inspired you most about Stephen Adly Guirgis’ writing?

The rhythms.

What would you say to someone to encourage them to come and see Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train?

It’s a relevant play that’s very well written, there are some excellent performances, a tremendous management team and it has a fantastic director at the helm in Kate Hewitt. Plus, it’s a very cool theatre. So come check it out!

Image Credit – Johan Persson


Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly


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