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Summary: A humorous look at how the nativity events may have played out in a time of Covid.
Style:  Light-hearted                Duration: 10min
Actors: 2F, 7M, 1M/F

 

Characters:     Hadassah – young woman. Daughter of Innkeeper
                        Innkeeper
                        Stage Hand
                        Joseph
                        Mary
                        Jacob – a shepherd
                        Reuben – another shepherd. A really dim one
                        Angel
                        Balthazar
                        Melchior        

Script

Scene: Reception area for the Bethlehem Inn

LIGHTS UP on STAGE. HADASSAH enters SL with Christmas decorations, humming a carol. INNKEEPER enters nervously SL trying to get HER attention.

INNKEEPER:     (Aside – to Hadassah) Pssst. Psst. What are you doing?

HADASSAH:     (Aside) I’m getting into character and setting the scene, like we were told to.

INNKEEPER:     But Jesus hasn’t even been born yet.

HADASSAH:     I know that, silly. That’s in the last scene.

INNKEEPER:     So there were no decorations or Christmas carols.

HADASSAH:     Aw. But they’re my favourite things about Christmas.

INNKEEPER:     Can we just get on with the scene the way we rehearsed it?

HADASSAH:     Oh. OK (Trying to hide decorations, changing into character) Good morning,                                 father.

INNKEEPER:     Good morning Hadassah, my dear daughter. I hope you slept well.

HADASSAH:     Well, I was awake during the night with a bit of a cough.

Alarm SFX , emergency lights FX. STAGE HAND enters SL with digital thermometer. Checks HER temp.

STAGE HAND:  It’s OK. Stand down. She’s fine. Temperature is normal. False alarm.

HADASSAH: (to STAGE HAND) That was my line. I don’t really have a cough. Seriously.

STAGE HAND realises his mistake. Tries to creep off SL unnoticed. Trying to justify himself, measuring distance between HADASSAH and INNKEEPER.

STAGE HAND: Well, better safe. And keep your distance. EXITS SL.

Awkward pause as INNKEEPER and HADASSAH watch STAGE HAND leave. INNKEEPER repeats his last line.

INNKEEPER:     Good morning Hadassah, my dear daughter. I hope you slept well.

HADASSAH:     Well, I was awake during the night with a bit of a …

STAGE HAND reappears. INNKEEPER motions him away.

HADASSAH:     …actually, I slept very well thank you father.

INNKEEPER:     Have you given any more thought about what we were talking about?

HADASSAH:     Yes, father. You know I love you, but what is there for me here in Bethlehem? I  just want to be where God is really doing things, not stuck here where nothing ever happens. Surely you see that it would be better for me to be in Jerusalem?

INNKEEPER:     Ah, my dear. You know I always want the best for you. And the good Lord knows what’s best for you, better than you do. So, all I’m saying is keep praying. He will show you the way. And don’t forget that Bethlehem has a very special part to play in the plans of the Almighty.

HADASSAH:     How could I forget the prophecy of Micah? I have heard it every day since I was born here in the city of David. One day, Messiah will be born in this very town.  And I would love to think that it might happen in my lifetime. But Micah prophesied over 500 years ago, father. What are the chances of the Messiah being born anytime soon? And it’s unlikely He would actually visit us. (PAUSE) I had better go and help serve breakfast to all our guests here at the Bethlehem Inn.

INNKEEPER:     Thank you, Hadassah. We’re so busy, what with the census and all. It’s a Godsend that we’re fully booked. The extra income at this time of year will see us through the quiet winter months. And I am thankful for all your help, even if you’d rather be where the action is.

HADASSAH exits SR. INNKEEPER busies himself at reception. MARY and JOSEPH enter SL wearing face masks. JOSEPH gently leading MARY. STAGE HAND enters and tries to get them to be 1 metre apart. THEY shoo HIM away. THEY approach INNKEEPER.

INNKEEPER:     Good morning sir, madam. Welcome to the Bethlehem Inn. How may I be of  assistance?

JOSEPH:           (Muffled) We’d like to book a room, please.

INNKEEPER:     Sorry. I didn’t quite make that out. Could you say again.

JOSEPH:           (Muffled) We’d like to book a room, please.

INNKEEPER:     No – still can’t make out what you’re saying.

JOSEPH:           (Taking mask off) Oh, for goodness sake. I said we’d like to book a room please.

INNKEEPER:     (aside) Ooh. Well someone put their grumpy pants on this morning. (to JOSEPH) Normally at this time of year, providing a room wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m afraid we’re fully booked at the moment– you know, with the census and all. I  know the other inns around the area are in the same position. Perhaps you have  family nearby you could stay with …

MARY:             (Sweet and saintly) Oh, please sir. We have no-one, and nowhere else to go. Please can you help us?

INNKEEPER:     I’m sorry, my dear. Perhaps if you had booked in advance or arrived earlier I might have been able to help…

MARY:             (polar shift) Listen buster, I’m very pregnant, very hormonal and need somewhere  to rest. Now. Got it?

JOSEPH:           I think what my wife is trying to tell you is we’re desperate. Look, I’m willing to pay over and above the norm.

INNKEEPER:     I sincerely hope you’re not trying to bribe me.

JOSEPH:           I wouldn’t dream of it.

INNKEEPER:     I’ll have you know that I’m an honest and upright member of this community.

JOSEPH:           I don’t doubt it

INNKEEPER:     But, who am I to be close-minded about such things. What are you offering?

JOSEPH pulls out a packet of toilet rolls and a bottle of hand sanitiser.

HADASSAH:     (Entering SR). Father, what are you doing?  

INNKEEPER:     (to MARY and JOSEPH) I’d like to help, really I would. But we simply don’t have any rooms available

MARY has a meltdown. JOSEPH and HADASSAH sympathise.

HADASSAH:     (to INNKEEPER) I know it’s far from ideal, but what about the barn?

INNKEEPER:     The barn? Surely you can’t be serious?

HADASSAH:     I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

MARY:             (contractions starting) Joseph!

JOSEPH:           (to INNKEEPER) We’ll take it.

HADASSAH:     Let me take you there. I’ll clean it up. You just concentrate on getting this baby born safely.

LIGHTS FADE on MAIN STAGE as HADASSAH, MARY and JOSEPH exit SR. SPOT UP on APRON STAGE. STAGE HAND approaches SHEPHERDS to take temperature & socially distance them. SHEPHERDS wait for HIM to leave.

JACOB:            I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘s’.

REUBEN:         Sky?

JACOB:            Nope. Try again.

REUBEN:         Sycamore tree.

JACOB:            Where? Where do you see a sycamore tree? There are no trees out here. Just grass and hundreds upon hundreds of stupid sheep.

Baa SFX

REUBEN:         There’s a sycamore tree in my garden.

JACOB:            But I can’t spy that with my little eye, can I?

REUBEN:         You could if you used a little imagination.

JACOB:            But the game’s not called ‘I spy with my little imagination’, is it?

REUBEN:         No, Jacob it’s not.

JACOB:            (PAUSE) So do you know what it is?

REUBEN:         Do I know what what is?

JACOB:            The thing that I spy with my little eye beginning with the letter ‘s’!

Baa SFX

REUBEN:         (Thinks really hard) No. I give up.

JACOB:            Do you want a clue?

REUBEN:         No.. I can do this… ssss…. Oh, alright then.

JACOB:            The thing that I spy with my little eye beginning with the letter ‘s’ is the same thing I spied with my little eye beginning with the letter ‘s’ last night. And the night before. And the night before that.

REUBEN:         Oh… oh… I know this! It’s ..ssss

Baa SFX. ANGEL enters quietly behind JACOB.

REUBEN:         An angel.

JACOB:            Oh come on, Reuben. Not even you are that stupid. Angel doesn’t begin with the letter s. It begins with ….

REUBEN motions for JACOB to turn. JACOB sees ANGEL

JACOB:            (Gibbering nonsense) Bubu… wha…

REUBEN just stands in jaw-dropping awe

ANGEL:            (to JACOB) Sorry. I’m not fluent in gibberish. And angel starts with ‘a’, not bubu wha.

JACOB:            I I I I, you you you you….

ANGEL:            He, he, he, he, she, she, she, she, it, it, it, it, they, they, they they. This grammar game is OK, but I prefer ‘I spy’.

REUBEN:         You are an angel, aren’t you?

ANGEL:            In living, breathing high definition.

JACOB:            (still in shock- speaking more gibberish)

REUBEN:         I think what my friend is trying to say is we’re a little surprised to see you. We don’t get many angelic visitations around here. Just sheep, mostly.

Baa SFX

REUBEN:         So, what are we supposed to do now? Bow in reverent awe? Cower in fear? I’m not really up on angelic protocol to be honest.

ANGEL:            Well, first things first. You are supposed to be socially distanced and wearing face masks.

JACOB:            Wha?

STAGE HAND enters, moves them apart and puts face masks on them & leaves.

ANGEL:            That’s better. Now, a little cowering in fear would seem to be appropriate.

JACOB & REUBEN cower.

ANGEL:            A little more.

THEY cower more.

ANGEL:            And a tad of reverent awe would be in order.

THEY display reverent awe.

ANGEL:            There you go. Perfect. Now, are you ready to receive my message?

THEY nod in cowering fear and reverent awe.

ANGEL:            Good. (Clears throat and intones) Fear not!

REUBEN:         (breaking from cowering & awe. Removes mask) Wait a minute. You just told us to cower in fear. Now you’re telling us to fear not. Make your mind up.

ANGEL spreads arms to look impressively glorious. SPOTLIGHT up to full.

REUBEN:         Cowering. Awe. Got it. Shutting up now.

ANGEL:            Fear not, for behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.

JACOB looks like he’s going to interrupt. ANGEL gives HIM a ‘don’t you dare’ look.

ANGEL:            And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

JACOB and REUBEN look at each other, then back to ANGEL, as if expecting more.

ANGEL:            That’s it. I’m finished now.

JACOB and REUBEN relax. LIGHTS down from full.

ANGEL:            Oh, almost forgot. We were supposed to have the whole multitude of the heavenly host praising God, but the regulations don’t allow singing at present so…

ANGEL intones again as REUBEN and JACOB resume cowering in awe. LIGHTS up to full.

ANGEL:            Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all people!

BEAT. REUBEN and JACOB relax again. LIGHTS down from full.

ANGEL:            Right. That’s me done. Remember – stay safe, protect others, save lives.

JACOB:            Is that from the Lord?

ANGEL:            No, the First Minister. But sometimes she likes to think she’s God. Toodleoo!

ANGEL exits.

REUBEN:         Well, that’s something you don’t see every day.

JACOB:            You can say that again.

REUBEN:         Well, that’s something you don’t see every day.

JACOB looks from REUBEN to AUDIENCE and back again.

REUBEN:         So what now?

JACOB:            Just what the angel told us. We’ve to go and see the Messiah. Now, the angel said He’s in the city of David. That’s probably Jerusalem, but we’ll need to find a rabbi to confirm that.

REUBEN:         Bethlehem.

JACOB:            What? Bethlehem? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a little hick town where nothing ever happens. Ever. How could the Messiah possibly be born there?

REUBEN:         (intones) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah chapter 5 verse 2.

JACOB:            (PAUSE) Bethlehem it is, then.

REUBEN:         Do you want to play I spy as we go?

JACOB:            Oh, all right. I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘s’.

Baa SFX

REUBEN:         Is it sky?

LIGHTS down on SHEPHERDS as THEY exit. LIGHTS up on MAIN STAGE. HADASSAH at Reception talking excitedly with INNKEEPER.

HADASSAH:     Oh, father. Isn’t it exciting? We’ve never had a baby born here before.

INNKEEPER:     You were born here.

HADASSAH:     But I mean a guest, having a baby, right here at the Bethlehem Inn. Somehow, I think this is special.

INNKEEPER:     Special is one word for it. A birth. In the barn. What was I thinking? I’m such a Covidiot. I can’t even count how many health & hygiene procedures we have broken.

HADASSAH:     Do you… do you think that baby could be the Messiah? 

INNKEEPER:     Don’t get carried away, my dear Hadassah. If I had a shekel for every time a baby born in Bethlehem is rumoured to be the Messiah … But here at our inn? In the barn of all places?

HADASSAH:     I suppose you’re right.

BALTHAZAR and MELCHIOR enter SL.

BALTHAZAR:   Where is He that is born King of the Jews?

INNKEEPER:     I beg your pardon?

MELCHIOR:     (to BALTHAZAR) Leave this to me. I speak the language of these simple folks. (Loudly, to INNKEEPER) Where is He that is born King of the Jews?

INNKEEPER:     You’re talking about Messiah? You’re looking for Messiah? I’m sorry to disappoint but I think you’ve come to the right place at the wrong time.

BALTHAZAR:   There is no mistake in our timing, peasant. We do not expect you to comprehend the intricacies of our cosmological computations, but they are beyond doubt.

INNKEEPER looks blankly.

HADASSAH:     (to INNKEEPER) I think he’s saying that they’ve worked out when and where Messiah is to be born.

MELCHIOR:     Very good, young lady. But we speak not of a future event. Messiah is born. Here.   Now. Do not merely take our word for it. Believe the star.

HADASSAH:     (amazed at the star above the inn) Dad?

INNKEEPER:     Hadassah?

HADASSAH:     Do you think..?

INNKEEPER:     The babe in the manger? Surely not.

REUBEN and JACOB enter SL.

REUBEN:         (to JACOB) Is it sss…star?

JACOB:            (exasperated. To REUBEN) No, it’s not star. (To INNKEEPER) Excuse me, sir. Is this where we find the Saviour?

INNKEEPER and HADASSAH look at each other. JOSEPH enters SR.

JOSEPH:           Oh. Quite a crowd now. I suppose it’s to be expected. Both mother and baby are doing well. They’re sleeping now. I thought I’d better come and tell you our story. I didn’t get a chance when we first arrived. Well, I know this is going to be hard to believe, but that baby sleeping in the manger is no ordinary child. He is…

INNKEEPER:     We know who He is.

MELCHIOR:     He is the King of the Jews.

REUBEN:         The Saviour of the world.

HADASSAH:     The Messiah.

JOSEPH:           Would you like to come and see Him?

STAGE HAND appears SR.

STAGE HAND:  Make sure you keep your distance. And put your face masks on.

JOSEPH exits SR followed by MELCHIOR, BALTHAZAR, REUBEN, JACOB & STAGE HAND.

HADASSAH:     Thank you, Father.  What a joy!

INNKEEPER:     You’re welcome, my child.

HADASSAH:     I wasn’t speaking to you, dad.

INNKEEPER:     I know. Shall we go and see Him?

HADASSAH smiles. INNKEEPER and HADASSAH exit SR. LIGHTS FADE

....................................................................................

© Copyright Barry Brannen, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.

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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Feedback would be appreciated.

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