Away With The Manger


A newspaper reporter and photographer go to the manger to cover the birth of Jesus. As they arrange the scene, Jesus gets pushed to one side.


Isaacs (reporter) and Bailey (photographer) - These are the only two speaking parts
Mary & Joseph
3 kings
Santa Claus


(Scene: The manger on Christmas Day. Present are Mary & Joseph, and a newspaper reporter and photographer. The cradle containing Jesus is centre, forward.)

Isaacs: Good evening, I'm Isaacs.

Bailey: How do you do! The name's Bailey.

Isaacs: From your local newspaper...

Bailey: "The Daily Israeli".

Isaacs: (As if quoting publicity blurb) The people's parchment...

Bailey: ... with all of the news ...

Isaacs: ... for all of the people.

Bailey: (Aside) That's "all of the Jews".

Isaacs: We heard half a rumour, and wondered if we could make it a story.

Bailey: With shots of the baby.

Isaacs: Might make the stop-press. We could give it a spin ...

Bailey: (musing) ... "Late, late arrival at the Inn ..."

Isaacs: ... A heading ...

Bailey: ... A picture, with your permission...

Isaacs: "Mother and Baby in Stable Condition".

Bailey: So let's keep it simple - just the kid in the shot.

Isaacs: "The Babe in the Manger" - they'll love it... a lot.

Bailey: (He has moved to the manger, to prepare for the picture being taken) Who's a coochy coochy coo?

Isaacs: (To Mary) Can you get it to smile?

Bailey: Maybe... (hesitates over Mary's name) ...

Isaacs: (filling in) ... Mary,

Bailey: ...the mother, could sit with the child (looking through camera).

Isaacs: (trying to help Bailey) Look loving ...

Bailey: ... Look homely ... Look down a bit (focuses camera).

Isaacs: (Helpfully) To the right. (To Bailey) Is that any better?

Bailey: (Grudgingly) Yeah, except for the light.

Isaacs: (Noticing Joseph) What about you? (Joseph mildly surprised, but as compliant as Mary).

Bailey: Who?

Isaacs: Joseph, the Dad.

Bailey: Stand there, behind ... (forgetting Mary's name again)

Isaacs: ... Mary.

Bailey: Look down at the lad. Now put your arm gently around your wife's shoulder.

Isaacs: Silent, but strong; that's how you'll come over. (Noticing something behind Joseph) I like the ox at the back.

Bailey: (Looking up, suddenly inspired) Hey! We must have that creature!

Isaacs: But it's covered in muck!

Bailey: So!? We'll make it a feature.

Isaacs: Couldn't we clean it up?

Bailey: (Disbelieving) You mean, just for one shot?

Isaacs: I'd feel a lot happier. (Moves towards back, towards ox).

Bailey: (Conceding) Okay then, I don't see why not.

Isaacs: Say! There's even a donkey back here on the ground!

Bailey: Could you pull it in closer?

Isaacs: (Sarcastically) Do you want the ox to look round?

Bailey: Looks better all the time.

(A few tentative shepherds enter scene)

Isaacs: It's certainly fuller.

Bailey: But what it needs now is a touch of local colour.

Isaacs: (To shepherds) Hey! What about you guys?

Bailey: Bring the sheep, too.

Isaacs: Though it's getting to look a bit like a zoo.

Bailey: (Directing Shepherds into camera shot) Crouch on the floor here.

Isaacs: Mind that ox mu... Never mind.

Bailey: (Resenting the interruption) Just stay kneeling right there.

Isaacs: (Aside) Out of sight, out of mind.


(Things now begin to get a little out of hand, as more and more people come on stage to be included in the shot. The pace gradually quickens.)

Bailey: That's everybody in.

Isaacs: Except these three kings. The gifts and the robes and the crowns and the rings would just add some glamour.

Bailey: (With abandon) Squeeze in at the side!

Isaacs: (a bit more cautious) Thank you for leaving the camels outside.

Bailey: Hey Isaacs! Look up! What is it? A ghost?

Isaacs: You fool! It's an angel, a heavenly host.

Bailey: (To angel) Excuse me ... er ... Sir, could you just stay there and hover? A little to the right, if it's not too much bother.

Isaacs: 'Course, we gotta have carol singers, singing carols, lamps a-glowing. (Enter carol singers) Dressed up all warm, for the snow that is falling. (Singers each throw a handful of "snow")

Bailey: And what about Santa, his gifts in a sack. (Enter Santa) Bulging with presents slung over his back.

Isaacs: And then, there's the Christmas tree, the gifts and the toys. (Child brings on tree, Santa gives the child gifts to put by it)

Bailey: Dolls for the girls ...

Isaacs: ... and guns for the boys.

Bailey: ....Walkman for the teens ... (enter teen with Walkman).

Isaacs: ... Surfboard for their brothers. (Enter late teen with surfboard)

Bailey: And what about the food, supplied by the mothers. (Enter harassed woman with plates of food.)


(Mary and Joseph are overpowered by this turn of events, as are the Kings and shepherds. The children and carol singers are keen to have their picture taken, Santa is ho-hoing. In the general confusion, Mary and Joseph are almost obscured.)

Bailey: Look, I know I'm a nuisance, but it's masking the ox. Could somebody shift out that dirty old box?

Isaacs: Yeah, in the middle of the scene it's a bit of a danger.

Bailey: A nuisance ...

Isaacs: ... A hazard.


(Santa quickly moves manger to one side, and takes central position himself, holding arms outstretched so Mary and Joseph are obscured.)

Bailey: (Looking through viewfinder) Good.

Isaacs: (To the crowd) Relax for a second.

Bailey: Be there in a while. Now ... closer together, and all at once ...

Both: SMILE!

(The camera flashes. There is no movement or noise. There is a pause, then the baby cries. All heads turn to look at the cradle.)

....................................... This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.