By Fran Barton
A retelling in verse form of the Tolstoy story "Papa Panov's Special Day". Adapted from a poem by Fran Barton.
(REQUIRED FOR SET - CONRAD'S ROOM WITH DECORATIONS AND A TABLE SET FOR SUPPER. NEED A CHEST WITH CLOTHES FOR BEGGER IN IT. DOOR TO CONRAD'S ROOM OPENS TO THE OUTSIDE SO WE CAN SEE PEOPLE AS THEY COME AND GO.)
(CARROLERS WALK INTO VIEW AS CONRAD STANDS IN HIS DOOR TO LISTEN - THEY ARE SINGING, 'JOY TO THE WORLD')
(NARRATOR WAITS FOR CARROLERS TO FINISH SONG. THE CARROLERS MOVE OFF AND THE NEIGHBORS ENTER THE SET AS THE NARRATOR SPEAKS. MAKING JESTUERS OF WELCOME, CONRAD INDICATES THEY ENTER HIS HOME. THIS IS TIMED TO OCCUR AS THE NARRATOR SPEAKS AND THEY ARE IN THE ROOM AND READY TO TALK WHEN THE NARRATOR FINISHES.)
NARR: It happened one day near December's end, two neighbors called on an old friend. When they arrived they found his shop that was usually meager and lean, made gay with bows of green. They found Conrad with his face all aglow and they asked him the reason.
Conrad - my your shop looks festive.
2nd neighbor: Yes, and you look so happy, I haven't seen
you this happy in a very long time.
Narr: It had been a long time since Conrad had been
so happy at Christmas for his family was all
gone. Conrad replied to his friends.
Conrad: Come in and I'll tell you why I'm happy. (They
move to sit down) Old friends, early this morning
the Lord appeared to me in a dream. He said, 'I'm
coming to be your guest.' So I've been busy
working very hard and decorated my shop with bows
of green and Christmas decorations. The table is
spread and the kettle is shined. (Conrad
gestures to the table). Now I wait for my
Lord to appear and listen closely to hear His
step as he nears my humble place and I'll open
the door and look on his face.
1st. N. I am so happy for you Conrad - this is the first
time you have looked forward to Christmas since
your wife died.
2nd N. We should leave you alone so you can wait for the
Lord. Good-bye old friend.
(AS THE NARRATOR READS, THE NEIGHBORS LEAVE WITH
JESTURES OF GOODBYE AND EXIT BEHIND THE ROOM AND
OFF TO THE RIGHT OF THE CHURCH. CONRAD TIMES HIS
MOVEMENTS WITH THE NARRATOR AND ACTS OUT THE
MOVEMENTS THE NARRATOR INDICATES)
Narr. Conrad bid his friends goodbye and sat down to
wait for his special guest. He waited with joy
in his heart and with every little sound, he
ran to the window.
Suddenly, he heard a knock at the door. With
much excitement, Conrad ran to the door, but all
that was there was a beggar whose shoes
were worn and his clothes ragged. Conrad was
touched as he opened the door to the beggar.
Beggar: Please sir, I have been walking for hours and I
am freezing. Could you please let me sit a while
and warm myself? Then I will be on my way.
Conrad: Come in - your feet must be frozen and sore. I
have some shoes in my shop for you and a coat
that will keep you warmer too.
(AS THE CHORUS SINGS, CONRAD AND THE BEGGER MOVE INTO THE ROOM, THE BEGGER SITS AND CONRAD GIVES HIM SHOES AND A COAT. THE BEGGER PUTS ON THE CLOTHING, GIVES CONRAD A HUG, WIPES HIS EYES AND WITH GOODBYE GESTURES LEAVES THE HOUSE IN TIME FOR THE NARRATOR TO SPEAK BUT NOT BEFORE THE SONG HAS ENDED.)
CHORUS: 'IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR'
Narr. So, with a grateful heart the man went away but
Conrad noticed the time of day and wondered what
made the Lord so late and how much longer he
would have to wait.
Suddenly, he hear a knock at the door and Conrad
quickly opened it only to find a bent old lady
with a stack of kindling on her back.
Lady: Could you please let me come in to warm myself.
I am so tired and cold and I've had nothing to
eat, please don't send me away on Christmas Day.
Conrad: You surely may come in as I have the kettle on
and a cup of tea to warm your weary bones.
Please sit at my table and rest awhile. You
can share my food.
(AS THE CHORUS SINGS THE LADY SITS AT THE TABLE AND EATS. SHE GETS UP TO LEAVE AND BIDS GOODBYE AS THE NARRATOR BEGINS SPEAKING.)
CHORUS: 'OH COME OH COME EMMANUEL'
(AS THE NARRATOR SPEAKS CONRAD WANDERS AROUND HIS ROOM LOOKING SAD UNTIL HE HEARS THE CHILD OUTSIDE)
Narr. After she left, Conrad was filled with dismay
for the hours were slipping away and the Lord
hadn't come as he said he would. Conrad felt
he had surely misunderstood.
All at once he heard a cry and again ran to his
door but all that was there was a small crying
child who had wandered away from her family on
(CONRAD KNEELS DOWN TO SPEAK FACE TO FACE WITH THE CHILD)
Conrad: Child - whatever is wrong.
Child: Please help me and tell me where I am.
Conrad: Oh, you poor little thing. How did you get lost?
Child: I was playing and it got dark. Can you help me
Narr. Conrad's heart was touched. He didn't know what
to do. It was getting late and he surely didn't
want to miss his special guest but yet he knew
he had to help the little child.
Conrad: Of course I'll help you. Do you know what your
house looks like?
Child: Yes - I built a big snowman yesterday and my
mommy has a big green wreath on the door with a
red bow. Our house is white with green shutters.
Conrad: I know just the house you are talking about.
Let's go right now and get you home before your
mommy worries any more about you.
(CONRAD LEAVES HOLDING THE CHILDS HAND AS THE CHORUS SINGS, HE DISAPPEARS AROUND THE BACK OF THE 'HOUSE' AND DOES NOT COME BACK OUT UNTIL THE CHORUS FINISHES)
CHORUS: SILENT NIGHT'
(CONRAD WALKS OUT FROM BEHIND THE HOUSE AS THE NARRATOR STARTS TO SPEAK, WALKS SLOWLY TO HIS DOOR AND ENTERS AND TIMES THE FALL TO HIS KNEES TO COINCIDE WITH THE NARRATOR)
Narr. When Conrad returned it was very late and in
despair he fell to his knees and prayed.
Conrad: Dear Lord, Christmas Day is almost gone. Why
did you delay? What kept you from coming to call
on me. Oh, I wanted so much to see your face.
Narr. Suddenly, in the quiet of the night, Conrad
heard a soft voice.
(IF POSSIBLE AS THE LORD BEGINS TO SPEAK - TRY TO HAVE ALL THE LIGHTS DOWN AND A LIGHT JUST AROUND WHERE CONRAD IS)
LORD: Lift up your head for I have kept my word.(CONRAD
LIFTS HIS HEAD IN SURPRISE) Three times my
shadow crossed your floor and three times I came
to your lonely door.
(AS EACH PERSON IS MENTIONED THEY COME OUT AND ENTER THE ROOM TO STAND BEHIND CONRAD)
I was the beggar with bruised cold feet, and I
was the woman you gave something to eat. I was
the child lost on Christmas Day. Three times I
knocked and three times I came in.
Each time I found the warmth of a friend. Of
all the gifts, love is the best. And, I was
honored to be your Christmas Guest
Ending: All the cast come out and the chorus stands and
all sing: 'WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS'
© Fran Barton 1996. All rights reserved. This play may not be performed
for monetary remuneration collected in any manner including free will offering.
The purpose of this play is for ministry only and is designed for use as a childrens
She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org