By David Wagner
This is a Christmas detective story. The characters are from two eras, mixed together in the same story. It is a combination 30's era detective story, and Israel shortly after Jesus' birth. Herod hires Private Detective James Murray to find the missing wise men. In the process of tracking down the wise men, James uncovers the much larger Christmas story, and the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Some of the characters are dressed in 30's era costumes and others in the traditional robes of a Christmas story.
The following characters are dressed in the classic robes and costumes of a
traditional Christmas play:
The Inn Keeper,
Shepherds 1 and 2,
Wisemen 1 and 2,
The following characters are dressed in 30's era costumes:
Thug 1 and 2,
The following characters could be dressed as either:
[Upstage, center, sits a desk, a chair, and a hat/coat rack. On the desk is a desk calendar, and a pen or two. On the 'other side' of the desk is another chair, for clients. James Murray sits at the desk, feet propped up on the desktop, picking at his fingernails. His trench coat and fedora are on the hat rack. All of the narration in the play is pre-recorded, the voice is James Murray. As the opening narration plays, James Murray picks at his nails.]
Narration: The name is Murray. James Murray. I'm a private detective. It says so on my door. You could say I'm in the information acquisition business. Some call me a snoop. Some call me a lot worse. Call me what you want - I'm good at what I do, and I got bills, just like everyone else. I don't pretend to be a white knight. I'm not exactly discriminating. If you can pay, I'll find out what you need to know. It ain't always pretty, but that's life. Over the years I've seen it all. I've helped some truly good people out of sticky situations, but I've also had some pretty unsavory characters walk through my door. This was one of those times.
[Enter Secretary, holding a folder, striding in]
Secretary: Mr. Murray!
James: Don't you ever knock?
Secretary: There's a new client here to see you.
James: Can't you see I'm busy? Tell him to am-scray.
Secretary: I think you'll want to see this one.
James: Lemme see the file.
Secretary: [handing him the file] I don't think he'll have a problem paying, sir.
James: King Herod? King Herod is here?
Secretary: Yes, sir. He's waiting in the lobby.
James: What's he want?
Secretary: I don't know, sir. He wouldn't say.
James: [Pauses. Closes file] Show him in.
[Secretary leaves, and a few moments later, leads back into the room King Herod, and his two cronies, Thug 1 and Thug 2. James has taken his feet off of the desk, and stands.]
James: Well, what a surprise, your majesty. Come in. How truly unexpected. Can I get you and your - uh - friends something to drink?
Herod: No time, thank you. Mr. Murray, I have need of your services.
James: Well, sit down and we'll discuss it.
Herod: [Sits] I need you to find someone for me. Three someone's, actually. They have something that belongs to me, and I'd like to retrieve it from them.
James: Sounds easy enough.
Herod: I don't have their names.
James: So much for easy.
Herod: [Stands and begins to pace] About 4 months ago, three men came here to Jerusalem from a distant land. They were - uh - following a star, or some such. Anyway, they stopped by the palace and I gave them what assistance I could. I'm always willing to help those in need. [Thug 1 and Thug 2 smile and glance at each other]
James: You say they took something from you?
Herod: No, I said they have something that belongs to me.
James: And that is..?
James: My specialty.
Herod: That is why I'm hiring you, Mr. Murray. These men were supposed to return to me with some information. They haven't. I need you to find out where they are, and either bring them to me or tell me where I can find them.
James: And the information?
Herod: [Glancing at Thug 1] Oh, I think we can get that from them ourselves, no problem.
James: What did they look like?
Herod: They looked like noblemen. From a country in the east. You know, flowing robes, jewelry, a little eye-liner - that sort of thing. They had a large caravan with them.
James: Shouldn't be too hard to find them - dressed like that, they'll stick out wherever they go. And they were headed..?
James: Gotcha. Well, that gives me enough to work with. When would you like me to start?
Herod: The sooner the better.
James: Fair enough. My fee is 75 a day, plus any travel expenses I incur.
Herod: Bethlehem is close.
James: In this business, you never know where you'll end up.
Herod: [tosses a pouch onto the desk] This should be enough to get you started. I must have my curiosity satisfied, Mr. Murray. Remember Proverbs 25:2 - It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. Come to me the moment you find anything out. [Exit Herod, Thug 1. Thug 2 lingers.]
Thug 2: You got that, pal? As soon as you find out anything ...
James: Trust me, big guy. I know the routine.
[Exit Thug 2. James picks up the pouch and sits again, feet on the desk again]
Narration: My gut told me there was more to this story that met the eye. But my brain told me not to ask any questions. And my experience told me that my brain was usually right. Besides, at this point, my bank account and my stomach both had one thing in common ... they were both empty. Now I could give them each something to eat. OK, so I'd go on a little mouse hunt and leave the rest to Herod and his two goons. What harm, right? I gathered my coat and hat and hit the bricks. Next stop, Bethlehem. I started by checking with the owners of the local bed and breakfast joints. I figured if these three wise guys blew through town, they had to sleep somewhere. At the fourth inn, I hit pay dirt.
[During this pre-recorded bit of narration, James has stood from his desk, put on his hat and coat, pocketed the pouch, and left the desk set. He heads slowly over stage right, where the Inn Keeper enters on cue.]
James: You say you remember these guys?
Inn Keeper: How could I forget three high-rollers like that?
James: How long did they stay here?
Inn Keeper: Oh, they didn't stay here at the inn. I was visiting my cousin out in the Bethlehem suburbs and I saw them out there. They pitched tents on a plateau and were only in the area for a few days.
James: What were they up to?
Inn Keeper: They were visiting someone in the area. We went over and talked to them for a bit ... you know ... to make sure they weren't trouble makers. They said they were bringing gifts to a newborn child. They had gold and spices and stuff. Very nice. Lucky kid, whoever he was.
James: Any idea where they went when they left?
Inn Keeper: No idea, sorry. My cousin said he woke up one morning and they were gone. I never saw them again. Wish they would have stayed here. I had plenty of available rooms at that time. Not like back in the census.
James: That was a busy time for you?
Inn Keeper: During the census? Are you kidding? Booked solid. I even put a couple out in the manger.
James: In the manger?
Inn Keeper: Yeah. I think that lady even had a baby out there that night. It was crazy.
James: Can I have your cousins' address? I'd like to find out who these travelers were visiting, and your cousin might know.
Inn Keeper: Sure. Lemme go write it down for you. [Exit Inn Keeper]
Narration: I got the address and hoofed it out to the suburbs. If the inn keepers' cousin could point me to the right house, I could ask the family where my three wayward mice went. Turns out the cousin was helpful, and that afternoon, I visited the very house. But instead of answers, all I got for my trouble was more questions.
[While this pre-recorded narration plays, James has strolled over stage left, and Land Lady enters, apron on, drying her hands with a wash cloth.]
Land Lady: How can I help you, sir?
James: I understand three well-to-do gentlemen from back east visited you about 4 months ago. I'm hoping to find out more about them.
Land Lady: 3 men from back east? I don't know what you're talking about.
James: I was told that three men in robes traveled to Israel to bring gifts to your new baby.
Land Lady: My new baby!? [laughs] That's a laugh. My youngest just turned 18. Who did you say you were again?
James: I'm a Private Investigator, madam. James Murray. I'm looking for three men.
Land Lady: Well, I'm afraid you have the wrong house.
James: How long have you lived here?
Land Lady: Oh, I don't live here. I own the property. Our previous tenants moved out last month. We're just getting around to tidying it up so we can rent it out again.
James: The previous tenants ... did they have a new child?
Land Lady: Oh, I don't know. I just collect the money. Lemme ask my daughter. Hang on. [Hollers off stage left] Martha! [pause] Martha, come here for a minute!
Martha: Yeah, mom?
Land Lady: Do you know anything about the tenants that just moved out of here?
Martha: Sure. Nice couple from Nazareth. Mary and Joseph.
James: Did they have a new baby?
Martha: Yep, a little boy.
James: Do you know where they went? Back to Nazareth, maybe?
Martha: Nope, don't know. I received a note from them one morning saying they had to leave. I came out that day, and they were gone. They must have been in trouble or something. Could have gone anywhere.
James: Well, this is a long shot, but do you happen to recall a caravan of people from back east that came to visit this couple earlier this year? Pitched tents right over there.
Martha: Actually, I did hear about it. I have a friend that works a flock out here. He told me all about it.
James: A shepherd? Where can I find him?
[Exit Land Lady. Martha and James head stage right as narration begins.]
Narration: Martha took me to a local watering hole, where shepherds liked to congregate in the afternoon. We waited around, and eventually, she pointed out an approaching shepherd ... she said he'd sing like a canary for the right price. Fortunately for me, the right price was low ...
[As narration ends, Exit Martha stage right and. Enter Shepherd 1, stage right]
James: I've been told you have some information I'm interested in. [Flips Shepherd 1 a coin]
Shepherd 1: [Looks at the coin] What would you like to know?
James: I'm trying to track down a caravan of high rollers from the east that pitched tents near here a couple months ago. I was told you interacted with them.
Shepherd 1: Yeah, maybe. What of it?
James: I need to know where they went.
Shepherd 1: I don't quite recall ...
James: [Flips him another coin] How about now?
Shepherd 1: Now I remember. They went home.
James: And where was home?
Shepherd 1: Somewhere back east ... it's a little fuzzy ...
James: [Flips him a third coin] Does that clear things up a bit?
Shepherd 1: Actually, they never told me, exactly.
James: Maybe one of your buddies over there could help me out better than you ... should I go see?
Shepherd 1: No, don't talk to those three ... unless you want to hear about angels appearing to them last year, announcing the Messiah. [laughs] Too much time around sheep can make some guys go nuts. Anyway, I don't know where the caravan went, but I know how we can find out, if it's not too late. We'll need to go back to Jerusalem.
Narration: Most of the time, working on a case is an unending series of dead ends, but this time, I caught a real break. The shepherd told me all about that night that the three rulers and their caravan pitched tents and visited the child. They were visiting the young boy, bringing him gifts, convinced the boy was a future king. In fact, the shepherd said that one member of the caravan, a servant, had fallen sick and stayed behind in Jerusalem to recover. He led me back to Jerusalem, to the place the sick servant was recovering. If I had waited a day longer, the servant would have been long gone
[As narration plays, James and Shepherd 1 pretend to talk. As second paragraph of narration plays, James and Shepherd 1 wander across stage left. When they get there, Shepherd 1 exits stage left and Servant enters stage left.
Servant: I'm well enough to travel, so I'm leaving this afternoon.
James: Tell me about your trip out here. Why did you come out?
Servant: My masters saw the King's Star in the western sky, and felt compelled to come out here, and worship the new king.
James: A new king, eh? Of Israel?
Servant: Yep. That's what they said. 'We've come to worship the King of the Jews.' They brought him gold, frankincense and myrrh.
James: They didn't come out to see King Herod? Weren't they working for him at the time?
Servant: Working for Herod? No. The King's Star heralds the birth of a new king, not an old one. In fact, Herod was the one that told us to go to Bethlehem to find the child. He said he would want to worship the new King too.
James: So you were told to find the child and then report back to Herod?
Servant: Wait a minute ... who are you again?
James: [in thought] Just a guy looking for someone.
Servant: There's a lot of that going around.
Narration: Funny that Herod would fail to mention all of this about the child King. Perhaps the location of the child is the information that Herod is after. Well, if the child turned out to be the new King, then it would make sense that Herod would want to locate him. But I doubt seriously that it was to worship him. Funny thing ... normally, finding out I was being used as a patsy would have led to me dropping the case in anger. But this time, it didn't matter. I still wanted to find the wisemen, only now it was personal. I wanted to find out more about this child. How is it that a star could announce a birth? How did they know they had found the right child? Has anything like this happened before? What did Herod know about this child that I didn't? I couldn't just ask Herod ... so I decided to tag along with the servant and ask the wisemen myself. I'd never been that far east before, and it was all going on Herod's travel-expenses tab anyway, so away we went. A couple weeks later, we rolled into a medium-sized Persian town.
[ As narration starts, Servant exits stage left for a few moments, then re-enters. James and Servant slowly stroll stage right. As narration ends, enter Wiseman 1, Wiseman 2, and Wiseman 3, stage right. Exit Servant stage right.]
James: So, you guys went all the way out to Israel to see a baby?
Wiseman 2: Not just any baby. He is the King of the Jews.
James: How did you find him?
Wiseman 1: We followed His star. It was not hard, it led us right to Israel ... then it reappeared and led us right to His house in Bethlehem.
James: Do all Kings have stars?
Wiseman 1: Only the ones that come from God.
James: OK, so this child is destined to be the new King of Israel then?
Wiseman 3: Of Israel at least. Probably more.
James: A King of more than just Israel? What do you mean?
Wiseman 1: According to our information, the child is what the Jews call the Messiah.
James: Whoa, wait a minute. The child you visited is the One prophesied in the Law to be the Savior of Israel?
Wiseman 2: Here, read this. [Hands James a scroll]
James: [Reading from the scroll] 'Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.' [Closes the scroll] You mean, this is talking about the child you visited?
Wiseman 1: Yes. He is destined to be great ... greater than King David himself!
James: What is His name?
Wiseman 1: He has many names. But His mother named Him Jesus.
James: One more question. Why didn't you return to Herod with the location of the child, as he ordered you?
Wiseman 3: We were warned in a dream not to return to Herod.
Wiseman 2: I don't think he likes the child.
James: Thank you for your time, gentlemen.
[Exit Wiseman 1 and Wiseman 2]
Narration: The trip home was a long one, full of questions. Could this child, Jesus, really be the long-awaited Messiah? Why does Herod want to harm him? Rome would have to authorize any new kings anyway, right? Does he fear that Rome would authorize this child to be King instead of him? That seemed absurd. Is he just interested in eliminating a potential rival, or does it have anything to do with the Kid possibly being the Messiah? I decided I wanted to find out as much as I could about the Messiah, and about this child Jesus ... and see for myself if they were indeed one and the same. I was anxious to begin my new mission as I drew near to Bethlehem. I wanted to start with the Shepherds that said the angels appeared to them in a field last year. When I got to Bethlehem, bad news greeted me.
[James has slowly strolled stage left again, stopping at center stage to 'ponder' as the pre-recorded narration plays. As narration ends, James is stage left, where Shepherd 2 has entered]
Shepherd 2: Oh, it's terrible!
James: Slow down. Tell me again what happened.
Shepherd 2: Herod's men. They came out of nowhere and killed all of the young boys in Bethlehem, two years old and younger. Nobody knows why. It just doesn't make sense! Why would he do something like that?
James: He's looking for someone.
Shepherd 2: What do you mean?
James: Tell me about a night last year, when angels appeared to you and your friends at night in the fields.
Shepherd 2: What does that have to do with anything?
James: What were you doing that night? Don't leave out a detail ...
Shepherd 2: Well, we were watching over our flocks by night when an angel of the Lord appeared to us, lighting up the night.
James: Must have been frightening.
Shepherd 2: Of course. [Begins to enact it as he speaks] But the angel said, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.' He said we would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
James: In a manger? Was this at an inn not far from here? During the census, when Caesar said everyone was to be taxed?
Shepherd 2: Yeah, it was. So anyway, suddenly a large host of angels appeared, glorifying God. When they left, we went and found the child in the manger, just as they said.
James: Remarkable. What else do you know about the Child? Where is He now?
Shepherd 2: I only know what I told you. After we saw the Child, we went around telling everyone about His birth. About the Savior of Israel. Wait a minute ... you don't think that ... .
James: That Herod is after that Child?
[Exit Shepherd 2, stage left. James moves back to his desk, and sits as the following narration plays]
Narration: I needed to go back to my office to think. Herod obviously wanted to kill the Boy. Now I was in a sticky situation. I found the wise men, which was what I was hired to do. But if I gave Herod their location, then he would undoubtedly take them and harm them, trying to get the location of the child from them. Luckily, the Child was gone. But Herod must be in a blind rage if he has resorted to killing infants. Will he kill more children in other towns? Or does he think he got him in Bethlehem? How would he know if he got the right boy or not? It was about that time that his two thugs paid me a little visit.
[Enter Thug 1 and Thug 2, followed by the Secretary, all stage right]
Secretary: You can't go in there! I'm sorry, Mr. Murray, I tried to stop them.
James: It's ok. You can leave us.
[Secretary pauses, then exits stage right]
James: How can I help you two gentlemen?
Thug 1: Herod wants to know where you've been.
James: I've been keeping myself busy. Sounds like you guys have been busy, too. A little baby sitting out in Bethlehem.
Thug 2: You know, sometimes it ain't so smart going nosin' around. You could get yourself hurt.
James: You two goons threatening me in my own office?
Thug 1: What information do you have for Herod. He wants his moneys worth.
James: You tell Herod when I have something for him, I'll tell him myself. Now scram.
Thug 2: [To Thug 2] I think he's lying. You think he's lying?
James: Now, take it easy boys ... let's talk this over ... no need to get pushy ...
[Thug 1 and Thug 2 move in closer, pounding their fists into their hands. Thug 2 takes off his jacket.]
Narration: Suddenly I knew I'd crossed the line. I was tired, and my mouth got ahead of my brain. Before they were done, I was seeing stars of my own. They stretched out my neck and played it like a banjo. Looks like my guts had been right after all. This started out as a simple mouse hunt, but it turned out to be a much bigger story. I needed to find the Kid. I was desperate. I had to make sure he was far away from Herod and his henchmen. Especially if the Kid was the Messiah. I looked all over Bethlehem, and Nazareth, and Jerusalem. I asked everyone I could think of, from common criminal to shepherd to respectable businessmen to neighbors to merchants. I ended up speaking with an old guy named Simeon at the temple, and even an older couple named Elizabeth and Zechariah who were supposedly cousins of Mary.
[While this narration played: Thug 1 and Thug 2 tower over the sitting James. The house lights go black, and pre-recorded audio of punches and slaps play for a few seconds. When the light come up again, the Thugs are gone, James has slumped to the floor. James staggers to his feet, puts a bandage on his nose. He wanders across the stage as he mimes 'asking' people for info as the narration plays. As he reaches stage right, Elizabeth enters on cue]
Elizabeth: Yeah, that's right. Mary is my cousin. We're like that [crosses her fingers].
James: You expect me to believe that you have a new baby, too ... at your old age?
Elizabeth: Hey, watch it, pal! I may not be all that young anymore, but I can still hold my own against the likes of you!
James: Calm down, ma'am, I'm sorry. It's been a rough week. I'm worried about your cousin and her boy.
Elizabeth: Are they in trouble? What's wrong?
James: For some reason, this child has gotten on Herod's bad side. Do you know where I can find them?
Elizabeth: I haven't spoken to them for over a month.
James: What can you tell me about the Child? I've been told He'll be a king.
Elizabeth: Mary came to me during her pregnancy and stayed with me for three months. Anyway, when she arrived and I heard her voice, my baby leapt within me and I was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. She told me about all that happened to her, with the angel appearing to her and all.
James: There seems to be a lot of that going around. What did the angel tell her?
Elizabeth: The angel said: 'behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.'
James: Good grief. Is that legit?
Elizabeth: It's the McCoy, Mr. Murray.
James: You sure you have no idea where they went?
[Elizabeth shakes her head 'no'. She exits stage right as the narration plays]
Narration: This Kid was sure turning out to be incredible, if all that I was learning was the real deal. But aside from learning some incredible information, I was coming up empty on His location. Wherever He was, He was hidden good. It should have been comforting ... I mean, if I couldn't find Him, there's no way an amateur like Herod could find Him. But still ... I couldn't rest. I stopped by the local diner to grab some grub and regroup. I stepped into some good luck.
[Elizabeth has exited stage right, and James has wandered over stage left, where a barstool sits. As he sits at the barstool, the narration ends, and Gladys enters stage left.]
Gladys: Hiya, James. What can I get for ya? [Sets a coffee mug on a saucer in front of James]
James: The usual, Gladys.
Gladys: You got it. How's it goin?
James: The usual, Gladys.
Gladys: That bad, huh?
James: I'm looking for someone and I'm coming up empty.
Gladys: Well, who ya lookin for? Maybe I can help.
James: I doubt it, Gladys. I'm looking for a Child. He's the Messiah. Born in Bethlehem about a year ago. Now his family up and leaves town, no forwarding address. Herod's after Him, but I wanna get to Him first.
Gladys: Hmm ... lemme see what I can do. Be right back.
[James sighs and stirs his coffee. Gladys reappears holding a scroll]
Gladys: OK, so, if this is the Messiah, that means He's God's Son. And if He's God's Son, then I'd look for Him in Egypt.
James: Egypt? Why?
Gladys: Says right here in Habakkuk: 'Out of Egypt I called My Son.'
James: Thanks Gladys, you're a doll. I owe ya one.
Gladys: Here, take this scroll. Read it on the way.
[James takes the scroll, stands, and moves stage right. Gladys exits, with barstool, stage left]
Narration: Who woulda thought that ol' Gladys would be an expert in Messianic Prophecy? I packed some things and took off for Egypt. On Herod's tab again, of course. Like I said before, in this line of work, you never know where you'll end up. I decided it would be quicker to go to Egypt by boat, so I journeyed to Ashkelon, a shipping port on the Mediterranean Sea. I had no idea how I'd track the Kid down, with Egypt being such a large country and all. I figure, the father, Joseph, must have a skill that would be in demand wherever he went. Perhaps a cook, or a clothing manufacturer, or even carpentry. Which means a large city rather than a small one, especially being a new arrival in a foreign country. I had plenty of time to kill on the boat, so I read up on the Messiah in the scroll that Gladys gave me.
[During the pre-recorded narration, James has returned to his office, grabbed a suitcase, set up a deck chair downstage center. He has taken off his trench coat and draped it over his resting suitcase next to the chair. He sits, unfurls the scroll and is poised to begin reading as the narration ends.]
James: What does that mean? I wish I could understand this!
[Enter Bus Boy]
Bus Boy: Is there anything I can get for you, sir?
James: Yeah, tell me what this means: 'Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Butter and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.'
Bus Boy: Well, Immanuel means 'God with us.' Isaiah is saying that a child will be born to a virgin, and that the child is not from earth, but He is God's Son, and He will dwell among us. He will be trained in righteousness.
James: But to what end? Why does God need to send His Son here to be a King in Israel?
Bus Boy: May I? [motions for the scroll. James hands him the scroll. Bus Boy rolls the scroll some, looking for a passage. He finds it and hands the scroll back to James] Here, read this.
James: 'Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.' [Pause. Looks up at the Bus Boy] That seems to go a bit beyond just being a King.
Bus Boy: Anything else, sir?
James: No, thank you.
[James stands as narration begins again. Bus Boy grabs the deck chair and exits. As Narration plays, James stands center stage, waiting. Enter Rabbi, who comes and stands next to James.]
Narration: I checked into a room in a hotel in Cairo, and started asking around. Everywhere I turned, I hit a dead end. It was frustrating. Many times I wished for a star in the sky to guide me to the Child. One night, while waiting for a taxi at the hotel, I struck up a conversation with a traveling rabbi.
James: So that's what I'm doing here. I'm trying to track down the Kid.
Rabbi: You might want to ask yourself again why you are looking for Him.
James: What do you mean, Rabbi?
Rabbi: I mean, what is the point of you searching for the Child? What can you do for Him, or for His family?
James: Well, I ... I don't know. Nothing, I guess. Warn them not to return to Israel, I suppose.
Rabbi: If the Child is truly God's Son, then do you feel you could protect the Child better than God?
James: Well ...
Rabbi: If God is orchestrating this, then you can be assured, my friend, that the Child Jesus is not only well-protected, but His steps are laid out before Him toward whatever end God has planned for Him.
James: So, what do you recommend?
Rabbi: I recommend you return to Israel. Get back to your life and your responsibilities. When the time comes, Jesus will be revealed for everyone to see.
James: You're saying I don't have to find Jesus ... He will find me.
[Enter Newspaper Boy, holding newspapers in a pouch, and one aloft in his hand. He is walking across stage, behind James, and the Rabbi.]
Newspaper Boy: Extra! Extra! Read all about it! King Herod dies! Relief washes over Israel! Extra!
James: Hey, boy. I'll take one of those, please.
[Hands him a coin in exchange for the paper.]
Newspaper Boy: Thank you, sir. [Turns to walk away] Extra! Extra!
[Exit Newspaper Boy]
James: [Looking at paper] Looks like I'm not gonna get paid after all.
Narration: I took the Rabbi's advice and left for Israel the next day, taking another slow boat. I was disappointed, but not too much. It was comforting to know that God cared enough about us down here that He would send us His Son. I could hardly wait to meet Him and hear what He had to say. I'm not exactly the most patient person in the world, but if the Rabbi was right, it wouldn't be too long before Jesus made a big splash in history. He'd already impacted my life, and I still hadn't even met Him yet. Now if I could just put it out of my mind and get back to business as usual.
[James has returned to the office, jacket and hat on the coat rack, feet on the table, suitcase out of view. Enter Secretary, holding several files.]
Secretary: I'm glad you're back, Mr. Murray. You've got some new clients waiting to see you. Something about a juvenile runaway and some stolen items ... [hands him the files.]
James: Judas Iscariot. Yeah, I know the kid. Troublemaker. Send them in. [Take to audience] What can I say? It's what I do.
[Cue ending music, fade lights. THE END]
PRODUCTION NOTES - When Worlds Collide: This is perhaps the most elaborate piece we've done. The main character [James] needs to be a capable actor ... the whole play hinges on him/her. What worked well for us was pre-recording the narration, and adding period music to it to give the play a rich, 50's-type feel. Of course, this meant we needed a person to focus on playing and pausing the CD at the right times, to bridge the live action. We set the office up center-back stage and left it there the entire play (since we go back to it several times) and then simply went back and forth across the stage to perform each segment of action, with the narration playing as James slowly crossed the stage. We also positioned two microphone stands at each side, since we only had two lapel mikes to work with, and several speaking parts. What worked well for us was to cast two of the smallest boys in our congregation as the two thugs. This is especially amusing in the scene where they rough James up. The cast of characters were costumed either in traditional nativity-era clothing, or in 50's detective story-type clothing. The two Thugs wore long-sleeved black pinstripe shirts, ties, and fedora hats, while King Herod wore a purple robe and cape (no crown) as he might appear in a traditional telling of the nativity. The contrasting styles of costume were amusing. James himself wore khakis, a white button up, suspenders and a trench coat and fedora. Gladys wore a 50's style waitress outfit. The Paperboy wore knickers and one of those floppy beret-type hats (don't know what they are called).
Copyright David Wagner, all rights reserved.
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