By Heather Cooper
The story of the two thieves crucified with Jesus. This is a multimedia production using film clips from "The Gospel of John" and mimes to music (Drimes) to Agnus Dei, The Thief, and Obsession.
Jesse: young apprentice thief
Jacob: older, experienced thief
Jesus: no lines, but an expressive mime
Woman taken in adultery
Sick child and her parents
Extras: wedding crowd; crowd following Jesus; chief priest, temple guards, Roman guards, worshippers at the temple; mourners,
Film clip: Wedding at Cana. Start: 12:50 Stop: 13:29
(Lights come up on two thieves who are guests at wedding, sitting on the outer edge of the other guests, discussing the younger thief, Jesse, joining the older one, Jacob, as a partner in crime, and the job planned for that day at this very wedding. )
Jesse: Jacob, how can you be planning a robbery with all these wedding guests around? Are you crazy?
Jacob: Not at all! If you want to make a living at this, Jesse, my boy, you have to be bold! It's when you sneak around that people get suspicious!
Jesse: But these are your own relatives! Don't you have any conscience?
Jacob: That's something you'll have to get rid of if you're going to be my partner. A conscience just gets in the way.
Jesse: I don't know, Jacob. Why did you ask me to join you, anyway?
Jacob: As much as I hate to admit it, I'm getting older, slowing down. I need someone with the speed and agility I lack to pull off the jobs I have planned. I benefit from your youthful reflexes, you benefit from my experience and intelligence! Besides, you remind me of myself when I was younger.
Jesse: Really? Why is that?
Jacob: You're hotheaded, ambitious, but frustrated with life under the yoke of the Romans. A person can work himself into an early grave and still not be able to make a decent living under their rules.
Jesse: That's true enough. I'm so discouraged, I'm willing to try anything.
Jacob: Good! Here's what I have in mind. (They lean closer together.) We've been through most of the good wine at this stage in the wedding feast. People are loosening up. Soon they'll bring out the cheap wine, and no one will notice the difference. Everyone is in the courtyard and the servants are all busy serving. We won't be missed if we go around the back and into the house. I know my uncle Zadok has some valuable coins and silver inside.
Jesse: Then what? Where will we go?
Jacob: Back out to the feast, my boy! If we disappear, we will be immediately under suspicion.
Jesse: I didn't think of that. You're good!
Jacob: That is why you need to stick with me! You've got to learn to think things through. Now watch me and follow my lead.
(Jesse and Jacob sneak around to the "back" of the house. Other guests exit.)
Return to video clip. Start: 13:29 Stop: 16:07
(As they go to the back door they notice Jesus and servants and crouch down and watch water turned to wine. At end of video, they get up, angrily.)
Jesse: (Amazed.) Did you see that? Amazing! I've seen good magicians before - but nothing compared to that! Who is He?
Jacob: (Angrily.) Jesus of Nazareth. My family knows his family. We might as well forget this job now. Those blasted servants keep coming back to check the water pots like they can't believe their eyes - or their taste buds! We'll never get in unseen now.
Jesse: (In frustration.) I was counting on that silver. I have debts I need to take care of.
Jacob: Hmm! All is not lost. I think we may just have stumbled on to a gold mine.
Jesse: (Puzzled.) What do you mean, Jacob?
Jacob: This Jesus is just the kind of person that will attract crowds - you know, some good tricks like that one, a different message - everybody's looking for a new prophet!
Jesse: (Still confused.) How will that help us?
Jacob: Crowds mean confusion; belongings left unattended, people's attention focused on the speaker. I've made small fortunes off the crowds going up to Jerusalem for feast days! Yes, Jesse, we need to become "followers" of the followers of this Jesus of Nazareth!
Jesse: (Chuckles.) I "follow" your thinking, Jacob! Let's get back to the wedding!
Show video clip of feeding the 5000. Start: 43:04 Stop: 46:20
(As crowds approach Jesus on screen (44:02), actors approach stage through congregation. When Jesus has crowd sit down (44:58), actors sit on steps. Actor Jesus distributes bread (pita) to them after clip ends. Jesse and Jacob work the outer edges of the crowd, getting a few things. Jesus approaches some members of crowd for healing - Agnes Dei drime)
(Jacob and Jesse sit on steps.)
Jacob: (Pulling out some of his "take".) Very profitable for a few hours work! Jesse, how did you do?
Jesse: (Looking over his loot in a distracted way.) Huh? Oh, fine, Jacob. Did you see what He did?
Jacob: Who? Oh, you mean Jesus! He is good, I'll grant you that! His performance today should keep the crowds coming.
Jesse: How does He do it, Jacob? I cannot figure it out. There must have been 5000 men alone here today, never mind the women and children, and He fed them all! Where did He get that much food? Hardly anybody brought food. I know. I checked out quite a few bundles!
Jacob: Who knows? All I can say is it sure helps us! He feeds the crowd and they feed us!
Jesse: But the healings, Jacob!
Jacob: He's getting to you, isn't He? Just you keep your mind on business! Remember what you owe me for the money that's making you comfortable. You're in this up to your eyeballs now!
Jesse: Don't worry! I'm not going to let you down. I just wonder, that's all. Let's get going and catch up to the crowd.
(Jesse and Jacob exit. Lights out.)
Video clip of Priests and Nicodemus talking. People entering temple, dropping coins in. Start clip: 1:04:10 Stop clip: 1:05:22
(On stage, people are entering temple and dropping coins in big containers. Use columns to represent temple. Jesse and Jacob are casually talking to each other but keeping a sharp eye on the foot traffic. When there is a break in people coming, Jacob keeps watch while Jesse goes and steals coins out of container. Suddenly, there is a great commotion just as Jesse is reaching into the container. Temple guards and chief priest march through quickly, dragging woman caught in adultery. Jesse quickly ducks down and rushes to find Jacob. They hide to watch. )
Show video clip of adulterous woman. Start clip: 1:05:26. Stop clip: 1:08:22
(After clip is over Jacob and Jesse come out of hiding and move center.)
Jesse: That was too close! It's getting dangerous around Jesus. He's attracted the attention of the Jewish authorities and they keep showing up!
Jacob: The bigger the risk, the bigger the profit!
Jesse: (angry) Hey! It was me, not you, almost caught with his hand in the treasury! I'm not willing to die for this job!
Jacob: (shrugs) Suit yourself. More for me to keep!
Jesse: There's got to be a limit to what you are prepared to gamble! The same with this Jesus! If He were smart, He'd get out of town and lay low for a while. Instead, He keeps provoking the Pharisees - healing on the Sabbath, confronting their hypocrisy! They won't rest until they've stopped Him for good!
Jacob: You've got to be daring if you want to get anywhere in life. Show no fear! Act like you know what you're doing!
Jesse: I still think it's too dangerous to keep following Him. There are other jobs around that would make us a nice profit with half the danger!
Jacob: (irate) I'm beginning to regret taking you on, Jesse! Your whining is starting to irritate me. We've barely started reaping the benefits of this opportunity! Make your decision! Stay with me or go! But stop whimpering about the risks!
Jesse: (angry but submissive) Fine! I'm with you. But let's make sure it isn't just me taking all the chances!
(They exit, stage right. Lights out.)
Video clip of Jesus rejected played. Start clip: 1:27:11 Stop clip: 1:30:01
(At the end of the clip, crowd of actors enters stage right, looking for Jesus)
(mimicking the crowd on the clip) and heading toward the door, stage left. Jacob and Jesse enter right, just behind them and go to lift the money bag from a member of the crowd. Suddenly, the crowd turns to go back to stage right. The victim catches Jesse and Jacob red-handed and grabs Jesse.)
Victim: (grabbing Jesse) Thief! Thief!
(Someone grabs Jacob as 3 Roman guards enter, alerted by the cries. Jesse struggles desperately and pulls a knife just as the guards take over from the victim. Jesse is freed for a moment and, as a guard moves to grab him, he stabs the guard, who falls over, dead. The second guard knocks away his knife and threatens him with a sword. The second and third guards grab Jesse and Jacob and push them off stage right. Lights out.)
(Blue lights come up on prison scene. Jacob sits leaning up against a wall, chained. Jesse hugs his knees to his chest, also chained, then slowly stands. Jesse looks out over congregation.)
Jesse: This isn't the way I planned for my life to go! I should have years left ahead of me - years to do all the things I want to do!
Jacob: (snarls) If you hadn't panicked and pulled that knife, I could have talked our way out of it. I can't believe you were so stupid and hotheaded!
Jesse: What's done is done. I can't change it now.
Jacob: No! One split second of panic and we're both condemned! I should have had my head examined, picking someone as worthless as you to be my partner!
Jesse: (in despair) Worthless…. that's pretty much the way my life looks to me now.
Jacob: (Gets up and comes to the front of the stage as to the door of his cell) Guard, guard! I need food…. and water! (Pause) Those Romans are barbarians! What does it take to get a little service here?
Jesse: They aren't worried about us. We'll be crucified in an hour or two. What do we need with food and water?
Jacob: (fear showing) If only I had a knife, I'd save them the trouble. Crucifixion is as barbaric as they are - a slow, agonizing death!
Jesse: I wish…
Jacob: Too late now, whatever it is! (Sits down in original position)
Jesse: Yes…. (Voice trails off). It's been so long…. since I had some peace of mind! (Sits down again)
(There is a long moment of silence. Then the sound of marching footsteps is heard. Two guards enter, stage right.)
Guard 1: (gruffly) It is time.
(Lights come up on Thief drime … … into last part of Obsession drime.)
Copyright Heather Cooper, all rights reserved.
This script may be used without royalty payment, provided no charge is made for entrance to the performance. In return for free use, the author would like to be told of any performance. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org