Three men and a sign

By Michele Pitman


How the 3 magi, Caspar, Baltasar and Melchior, discovered the star pointing to the new king.


Baltasar and 
Narrator (to read text if desired)


The scene is set in an ‘olde worlde’ observatory.  There is a ‘window’ back stage.  A rustic wooden table with various charts and a quill in ink well.  There is a wooden stool under the table. There is a bookshelf or two with large bundles of scrolls and paraphernalia on them.  They are aged and dusty.


Baltasar will need a rather thick round lens to act as a monocle. He must hold it to his eye.  It cannot be fixed there like the monocles of later centuries.  All the men need to wear clothing of an ancient Persian style, i.e. turbans, tunics in white or beige with wide belts and large voluminous pantaloons down to the ankles.  They may wear coloured short waistcoats if wished.  Melchior may dress a little more flamboyantly.  Bare feet are fine if authentic looking sandals can’t be found


[Caspar is studying the sky through a large window up stage.  He comes over and checks a chart on a table near by and makes some marks on it with the quill.  He turns back to the window again.  He pauses as if wondering about something.  He frowns in concentration and then looks out the window again.  Immediately he galvanizes into action.  He pulls some old dusty scrolls from off the top shelf of a nearby bookshelf.  He clears the table of his star charts with one large sweep of his arm and begins unrolling one of the scrolls.  He studies the scroll for a minute, chocking the corners with heavy objects to hold it open.  He then swiftly goes to check the sky.  He suddenly beams a wide joyous smile.  He checks the scroll again.  He unrolls another.  He reads for a moment, then suddenly stabs at the words with his finger.  He shouts:]
CASPAR: Eureka! [He rushes over to stage left as if to call down stairs]  Baltasar!  Melchior!  Get up here. Hurry!
BALTASAR: [A voice off stage left as if from far away yells in irritation  “What now, Caspar?”]
CASPAR: Just get up here!  I think I’ve found it!
BALTASAR: [voice off again] “Found what?” - a pause - “ Oh alright! I’m coming!”  [Enters, after a moment, from stage left]
CASPAR: Quickly!  Where’s Melchior?
BALTASAR: I think he’s on a mission in the herb garden - [rolling of eyes and heavy emphasis] again!
CASPAR: [grinning] Aaah! Yes!  Is the Princesses new handmaiden picking rosemary by the moonlight again?  You’ve got to admit - she is very easy on the eye, Baltasar my friend [he winks mischievously]
BALTASAR: [Throws his hands up in disgust] I don’t want to talk about it.  That girl will cause us all grief for certain.  We’ll never get any of our work done with Melchior mooning about in this new fit of lovesick. Why it was only three weeks ago and he swore he’d die of love for the daughter of the Captain of the Guard.  He’s becoming lackadaisical in his studies Caspar.  You will have to discipline him more.
CASPAR: He’s young, Baltasar.  Leave him be.  Besides once he sees what I have found - I guarantee you that this fit of lovesickness, as you call it, will pass in an instant.  [He shouts to stage left again] Melchior!  Get yourself up here to the observatory - NOW!
[Enter Melchior grinning and puffing profusely, from stage left.  He stops and stands with his knees apart and adopts an exhausted athletes pose with hands on his knees, elbows out and head low.  He can’t help grinning - or puffing]
CASPAR: [laughing.  He moves to the table and waves Melchior over]. Come! Come! My amorous young apprentice.  See what I have found.  [Baltasar is scowling morosely with arms folded at the stage right end of the table]
[Melchior comes over and bends over the scrolls.  He is still panting slightly.  He looks quizzically at Caspar then back at the scroll]
MELCHIOR: Is this what I think it is Caspar? [He goes to look at the sky]
BALTASAR: [Irritated] Look, Caspar!  I haven’t got time to be up here on wild exclamations and whims of cheerful fancy.  Will you please explain yourself?
CASPAR: [gesturing to the scrolls] Just look Baltasar.
[Baltasar comes around to Caspar’s side of the table.  He takes a rough looking glass monocle from his large sleeve pocket and places it over his left eye.  He traces the lines of writing on the scroll with his right finger grunting to himself occasionally]
BALTASAR: [Incredulous] and this, you believe, is it?
CASPAR: Yes!  Yes!  Melchior - please -move aside - let the unbeliever see the sign.
[Melchior stands aside as Baltasar sweeps over to the window- putting away his monocle- he peers at the sky.]
MELCHIOR: [with cheeky good humor he crosses his arms smugly and nods toward the sky.] I’d say that, that is a pretty good fancy, myself, wouldn’t you Baltasar?  [He winks at Caspar]
BALTASAR: [Unbelieving] It can’t be.  [He rushes over and checks the scroll again] It can’t be.
CASPAR: I’ve double-checked and checked again.  I believe the sign is true.
BALTASAR: [breathlessly and in awe] It is the sign! [gesturing toward the window] It’s there for the entire world to see! [Pause] The David line. [Pause] The King is born! [He thumps the table with his fist] Do you know what this means?
MELCHIOR: [he comes over from the window and leans over Baltasar to also look at the scrolls.  He says quietly] I think I’ve got a pretty good idea my friend.  The one foretold by the ancients has finally arrived.
CASPAR: Yes!  He is here!  And he will be the Salvation of us all. [Pause] Come we have much to do.  We must prepare for our journey.
BALTASAR: [he begins to pace] We must take him a gift.  But what?  What sort of gift befits a King of this calibre?  [He paces with his chin in his hand deep in thought for a moment then throwing his arms out wide in exasperation]  Of what good are concubines, circuses and horseflesh for a child King, a thousand leagues away?
CASPAR: [Authoritatively] We will each take something that is easy to carry.  It will be useful to the child now and in the future.  And it will be a gift that befits his Kingship.  Each of you must choose for yourselves what you will bring before the Child King. As for myself, I will take him a talent of gold, said to be from the treasuries of that ancient priest, Melchizedek, himself.
MELCHIOR: [excitedly as if with a revelation] Oh!  I know!  I have just the thing, a jar of the finest Frankincense that ever graced a royal brow.  [he begins to get a love sick look on his face]  It is as sweet and as fragrant as fair ….  [he notices Baltasar frowning at him and he suddenly becomes more officious] and with the finest healing qualities of any of the most precious oils.  [resolutely] Yes!  That will be my gift to him.  Frankincense!  [He rushes off stage left]  I must go. [with that lovesick look again] Anabelle can help me prepare. [exit Melchior]
BALTASAR: [frowning after him gently] Hmpf! And where is he going to get so much expensive perfume?
CASPAR: It’s probably better not to ask that question of a lad of his - er - connections, Baltasar!
BALTASAR: That young rogue will make us late for our journey you know Caspar! Anabelle indeed! Hmpf!
CASPAR: [laughing] He will that. [looking stage left]  It must be more serious than I thought! [He slaps Baltasar ffectionately on the back] But you, my friend!  What will you take for the little King?
BALTASAR: [unsure and hesitant] I have a number of vials of finest quality myrrh.  I was saving it as peace offering for my good wife - she gets into such a temper when I become engrossed in my work.  [Pause then apologetically] She won’t like this you know, Caspar! Me going away for so long and so far. [Hesitant again] Do you think that myrrh will be good enough for the King of Kings?
CASPAR: [gently] Myrrh is a most correct gift to give to a King destined to save the world from all its bitterness, my friend. [He quickly slaps his hands together as if for business] But, come. Help me plot a course for our journey.  It is very far and we will need much in the way of supplies.
[Caspar bends over the scrolls again.  Baltasar picks up the items on the floor and puts them away.  He then takes out his monocle and looks at the scrolls with Caspar.  They appear to confer with each other quietly. Caspar then goes to the window to look at the sky again while Baltasar pulls out a stool from under the table and sits. He studies the scrolls intently.  All Freeze.  The text may be read at this point]
© Michele Pitman 1999, all rights reserved
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. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what
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