The Nativity is Restless

By David Wagner (adapted from work by Julia Whitehair and Catherine Smith)


Three children set up a nativity scene with their family's pieces. When they leave, the figures come to life, to retell the story to an intruder.


3 children
3 Shepherds
3 Wisemen


Scene 1 - The Set-up

[Enter Child 1, Child 2 and Child 3. Empty nativity sits on a table in front of stage. Child 1 (the oldest) holds a shoebox. Child 3 (the youngest) clings to a ballerina doll]

Narrator: The Smith family is decorating their house for Christmas, and the kids are helping.

Child 1: Mom said to be careful with the manger scene, so I'd better set it up. You might drop it.

Child 2: Can I watch you?

Child 1: I guess. Just don't touch anything!

Child 3: Let's hurry so we can get to the Christmas tree!

Child 2: [picks up Mary from box] Who's this supposed to be? She's pretty.

Child 1: [snatching figure away] I said don't touch. This is Mary. She's the first figurine Mom ever had.

Child 2: Why?

Child 1: Gramma gave Mary to Mom for Christmas right after I was born. Gramma said it was special because Mom and Mary were both new moms at Christmas.

Child 3: Can we go to the tree now?

Child 2: Who did Mom get next?

Child 1: Next she got Joseph, of course. He was Mary's husband.

Child 2: Where does he go?

Child 1: He stands here next to Mary. Dad gave Joseph to mom the next Christmas. He said he wanted to be a good husband like Joseph was.

Child 3: Is it time for the tree now?

Child 2: In a minute…so, why are they in a barn?

Child 1: This was where Jesus was born. It was in Bethlehem. There were so many people in Bethlehem to pay their taxes that there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn. [Picks up Inn Keeper figurine] That's who this guy is.

Child 2: What is he?

Child 1: He's the Inn Keeper. He told 'em they had to go stay in the barn. See…watch…[moves the Inn Keeper into place in the nativity, then grabs Joseph with his free hand. He does different voices for each figurine]

j - Are you sure there's no room for us in the Inn, Mr. Inn Keeper?

ik -Yes, I'm sorry. There's just too many people in town.

j - But…the barn? It doesn't look like this place meets OSHA standards.

ik - Bring it up with the city, pal. I just work here.

Child 2: Is that really what happened?

Child 1: Something like that. I don't think they were too happy about having to stay in the manger. They were probably scared, too. [Puts Joseph and the Inn Keeper back into manger]

Child 2: So 'manger' and 'barn' mean the same thing?

Child 1: Yep. They call it a manger because it would sound too strange singing "Away in a Barn." [Grabs the 3 Shepherd figurines out of the box]

Child 3: The tree please?

Child 2: Just a sec…who are those guys?

Child 1: These are the shepherds.

Child 2: Where's their sheep?

Child 1: They left them at home so they could come see the baby Jesus. Sheep tend to slow a guy down when he's in a hurry.

Child 2: Why did they need to hurry?

Child 1: [Grabs Angel figurine] Because this guy told them to. Watch. [Child 3 sits down to watch. He grabs the angel and a shepherd]

a - Hey, you…with the staff.
s - Who, me? Hey, you're an angel. Yikes! (he was afraid)
a - Don't be afraid. I bring you great news. The Savior has been born in Bethlehem. Grab your friends there and go down and see for yourself. Then tell everyone you see.
a - Roger.

Child 3: Why did he call him Roger?

Child 1: No, that means "ok." I think the angel's name was Harold. Apparently he sings.

Child 2: When did Mom get these guys?

Child 1: She got the rest of these guys one a year, but I can't remember the order.

Child 2: So where do they go?

Child 1: The shepherds stand here [placing shepherds into nativity]. I'll put the angel here so he can see everything.

Child 3: Who's next?

Child 1: Next are these guys. [Grabs Wisemen] Can you guess who these guys are?

Child 2: They look like chess pieces. The ones that can only move one space at a time.

Child 1: You mean the kings. Yep. They're also called wise men. They traveled from far away to come see baby Jesus.

Child 2: Why?

Child 1: To bring him gifts…here, watch. [Takes two wisemen and sets them in place, then grabs the third wiseman and a shepherd]

w - Excuse me…is this the line to see the new king?
s - Yes it is. But we've already seen him, so you go right on up.
w - Thanks. We're bringing him the first ever Christmas presents.
s - Why didn't I think of that? You guys really are wise men.

Child 2: What presents did they bring?

Child 1: They brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Child 2: Did kids play with those things back then?

Child 3: Speaking of presents, can we please go decorate the tree now?

Child 1: [Arranges the figurines in nativity, then brushes his hands together] Yep. We're finished here. Let's go start the tree.

Child 3: Yippee! [Jumps to feet]

[Child 1 and Child 2 start to exit, Child 3 lingers a moment, the places her ballerina doll by the nativity and says the following line]

Child 3: Here, Dolly. You can stay here and learn about baby Jesus too.

[Exit Child 3]


Scene 2 - the Nativity

[Fade lights. In darkness, enter the cast from the nativity, dressed to correspond to the figurines. They set up on stage in the same positions as in the miniature. Also present is the ballerina.]

Shepherd 1: [Stretching, rustling robe] Well, here we are again. I was beginning to get all itchy. Frankly, I get kind of cramped in that box with no light, no air, no nothing.

Shepherd 2: What do you mean "nothing?" You have us to keep you company. Are we chopped liver or something?

Shepherd 3: It's not that bad, actually, since they started wrapping us in tissue paper every year. Nice and cozy.

Shepherd 1: Yeah, but when you're wrapped up you can't see a thing. Who kept poking me in there, anyway?

Shepherd 2: It was probably me. Sorry. It's getting kind of crowded in there.

Shepherd 3: It could be a bigger problem if they decide to add more of us to the set.

Shepherd 1: Well, if they do, we'll just have our friend here say…[Motions to Inn Keeper]

Inn Keeper: [Smiling, taking his cue]…Sorry, no room.

Shepherd 3: Excellent. Have you been practicing?

Inn Keeper: [Shrugs] It's a living.

Shepherd 2: Hey, is the angel here?

Angel: Right here, good shepherd.

Shepherd 2: How about our traditional Christmas roll-call poem to get us started?

Angel: My pleasure [Clears throat]

Shepherd, dear, it is quite clear
That we're all here again this year
The three wise men in raiment fine
Stand holding gifts for child divine
The shepherds here to see the one
Who'll grow to live as God's own Son
And here sits Mary, in the hay
To her was born a child this day
Joseph watches quietly
As proud as he ought to be
And there's a woman by the door
Whom I've never seen before

Shepherd 1: Wait…you lost me on the last part.

Inn Keeper: Yeah, I was wondering who she was as well.

Wise man 1: You want me to ask her?

Shepherd 2: Please.

Wise man 1: Ok… [Walks over to doll, taps her shoulder] …uh, excuse me, madam, but who are you?

Ballerina: [Twirls] I am a ballerina.

Shepherd 1: A ballerina?

Wise man 2: What's a ballerina?

Ballerina: A ballerina! You know…[twirls again]

Wise man 3: I don't remember a Ballerina in the manger scene.

Ballerina: Manger scene? What manger scene?

Shepherd 1: [Shocked] You mean you don't know about the manger scene?

Wise man 2: About baby Jesus?

Inn Keeper: You know… "No room in the Inn." Surely you've heard that before…

Ballerina: I don't know what story you're talking about.

Mary: Joseph? The situation here is breaking down. Can you do something please?

Joseph: Of course, dear. [to Ballerina] Ma'am? If you like to, you could sit over here and let us give you the abridged version.

Ballerina: Ok! [Twirls over to one side and sits down, listening]

Joseph: We're pieces of a set called the Nativity. We're portraying an event that happened a long time ago.

Shepherd 3: A wonderful event.

Wise man 3: Something that had never happened before.

Wise man 1: And never will again.

Mary: The birth of God's Son here on earth.

Joseph: He came here to save mankind. It's a long, wonderful story, but this scene represents a small but crucial part of it.

Inn Keeper: Sorry, no room in the Inn.

Shepherd 2: [To Inn Keeper] Is that all you know how to say?

Inn Keeper: Well, I want to contribute!

Joseph: [To Inn Keeper] I'll let you know when it's your part. [Resumes] Anyway, God sent his son down to be born here, so he could be counted as part of mankind.

Mary: Then he could be offered as an atonement for the sins of man on the cross. That's a sad part.

Wise man 1: Sad, yes, but important and wonderful too.

Mary: Well, I'm his mother…I can be bothered a bit more than you can at his dying.

Joseph: He then rose from the dead, but that's a different part of the story. This is his birth.

Angel: I announce his birth.

Shepherd 2: We shepherds come to see him, then to spread the word around the country.

Wiseman 2: And we come from far away lands to bring gifts to the new king.

Inn Keeper: Ahem!

Joseph: Oh, yeah…go ahead.

Inn Keeper: Sorry, no room in the Inn.

Ballerina: Ok, I think I get it. God sent his Son into the world as a savior of mankind, and this is the scene where he is born. Is that right?

Joseph: That's right.

Ballerina: Wow. Thanks for telling me! [Looks up] Whoops! Somebody's coming!

Mary: Places everyone, quickly.

[People resume places, lights fade. When they come up again, the stage is clear, the small nativity is back in place. Enter Child 3]

Child 3: [Skipping over to nativity, grabs Ballerina] There you are! Did you learn about baby Jesus, dolly? I hope so. [Clutches doll as she skips off stage]



Copyright David Wagner.
This is a heavily modified version of an idea by two other authors, who, try as I might, I have been unable to locate online in order to get proper permission to modify their piece. I reworked the dialog and removed all of the songs that appeared in the original, but the basic premise is the same - that of the siblings discussing the nativity, the doll being left as the kids flee, and then the nativity coming alive. What could I do but simply give them credit for the original idea? I don't stand to make any money in any case. If you happen to know Miss Whitehair or Miss Smith, by all means, have them contact me. Email: