(Scene: The Producer is in the studio (stage left), communicating with the Reporter (centre stage) who is in Jerusalem to report on rumours that the recently crucified Jesus has risen from the dead. The Interviewees wander around behind the Reporter but the Hooded Man is standing inconspicuously in the background.)
Producer: OK, we’re going live in one minute. Let’s keep it sharp and punchy. This story is huge, so let’s make the most of it. The body’s gone missing - where is it? That’s the story. I want short and sharp eyewitness accounts – no waffle or sidetracking. And, Mike – no weirdoes OK? Remember that John, the baptising bloke, a few years back? Fruitcake!
Reporter: Does your granny know how to suck eggs, Roger?
Producer: Very funny Mike but you know what these religious types can be like.
Reporter: OK, OK. How am I looking, anyway?
Producer: As ugly as ever but you’re set up OK if that’s what you mean.
Reporter: Thanks, mate, I’ll remember you in my will – no money, I’ll just remember you.
Producer: OK, that’s enough. You’re on in…three…two…one…Go!
Reporter: (To camera) This is Mike Feedback reporting for the BBC on the staggering rumours that have been coming out of Jerusalem suggesting that the body of Jesus of Nazareth, executed here last Friday, has disappeared. The tomb in which he was laid was empty this morning and all sorts of stories are going around but we’re here to try to find out the truth.
Producer: That’s great, Mike – nice closing line! Now let’s get out and get some interviews – remember, keep them sharp. Go with him Camera.
Reporter: (To camera again) In our quest for the truth, we’re out on the streets of Jerusalem looking for eyewitnesses and asking the opinions of, to coin a phrase, the man on the Bethlehem omnibus. (Woman) Madam, excuse me, Madam. You must have heard the story that’s going round that the body of Jesus of Nazareth has disappeared.
Woman: Disappeared! Stolen more like!
Reporter: Stolen? Who would steal the body?
Woman: Those followers of his, of course. Obvious, ain’t it? Trouble making Galileans!
Producer: Mike, this is great! A bit of scandal and some good old-fashioned regional conflict! The ratings are going through the roof. Keep her going. Keep rolling Camera.
Reporter: Roger, Roger (Speaking to woman again) What do you mean?
Woman: Well, I mean, stirring up trouble with the authorities just because they can’t admit defeat. OK, so we were all fascinated by that Jesus bloke – you couldn’t help but take notice of all those magic tricks and so on. Not that I need any help, of course – I’m fine just as I am without any religious crutches. Anyway, it’s all proved to be false, hasn’t it? He’s dead so that’s that. But they have to go and nick the body just to keep the whole thing going. Why don’t they just give up?
Producer: Fantastic! Mike I’ve had the Director on the ‘phone – he’s ecstatic! Let’s have some more while we’re still on a roll!
Reporter: (Man) Sir, sir! Can I have a moment of your time? What can you tell us about the mystery of the disappearing body of Jesus?
Man: Oh, it hasn’t disappeared.
Reporter: It hasn’t? Then what is all the fuss about?
Man: Oh, don’t get me wrong – the tomb is empty all right – I saw that for myself this morning. But the body’s not missing - Jesus is in it! Jesus is alive! I saw him myself only an hour ago! He really is alive!
Producer: Get rid of him, Mike – the man’s a nutcase. Jesus was certified dead on Friday so how can he be alive now? Lose him and find someone else.
Reporter: But, Roger, we’ve got to have balance – anyway you wanted controversy, you know what that sort of thing does for the ratings.
Producer: Balance, yes. Controversy, yes. But nutters, no. Move on before we lose them to Channel 4 – their reporters are a lot better looking than you and a bit of leg and glamour always sells, so if you want to keep your job, get on with it!
Reporter: Whatever happened to the freedom of the press? (Girl) Excuse me Miss.
Girl: Ooh, am I on telly? (Waves to camera) Hello Mum!
Reporter: We are trying to do a serious news item here.
Girl: But I’ve never been on telly before!
Producer: Just shut her up or get rid of her, Mike – we haven’t got time for this.
Reporter: Just try to act as though the camera isn’t there.
Girl: But it is, isn’t it? Look, there it is! (Waves again) Hello!
Reporter: Just pretend it’s not, OK? (Hastily, before she has a chance to start again) So what do you think about this amazing story about the disappearing corpse? People are even saying that they’ve seen him alive.
Girl: Well, maybe they have. See, what I think, right, is that he wasn’t really dead – just sort of passed out. So, when he woke up, he just got out of the tomb and walked off.
Reporter: (Uncertainly) Right, so he was crucified and then had a spear stuck into him, but he didn’t die. Is that what you’re saying?
Producer: Don’t argue with her, Mike – she might have a point.
Reporter: (Hissing) Have a point? What she seems to have is a touch of sunstroke – the girl’s babbling! You said yourself that Jesus was certified dead on Friday (To Girl) So he didn’t die?
Girl: He can’t have done, can he – not if he’s still alive now.
Reporter: And he rolled away that huge stone all on his own after having been beaten within an inch of his life, crucified and stabbed with a spear?
Girl: (Weakly) Yeah…well…that’s what my Dad thinks anyway.
Producer: Mike, there’s a guy in the background – I can see him on the monitor – bloke with the hood. Looks interesting - get a word with him.
Reporter: Got him, Roger – with me Camera (To Hooded Man) Excuse me, Sir, have you got a moment?
Hooded Man: Certainly.
Reporter: You must have heard all the fuss about Jesus of Nazareth – the man they even called the King of the Jews.
Hooded Man: Yes, I’ve heard.
Reporter: What do you think?
Hooded Man: What do you think?
Reporter: (Flustered) I was hoping you would give me your views. I’m a reporter and I’m supposed to be the one who asks the questions.
Hooded Man: Didn’t Jesus say ‘Destroy this Temple and I will raise it again after three days’?
Reporter: Er…I have heard that he did, yes – everyone thought he was mad.
Hooded Man: And today is the third day since he died.
Reporter: So you think he did die then?
Hooded Man: Oh, yes, he died all right – I was there.
Producer: Camera! Get a close up on his hands – they seem to be scarred. Zoom in. Closer. Yes, I was right – huge scars on both hands! Almost as though something’s been driven right through them!
Reporter: (To Hooded Man) So, he did die but the body’s gone and some people are saying that he’s alive. What’s happening? I just want to get to the truth!
Hooded Man: I AM the truth.
© Trevor Fletcher, 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 purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org