I had the new experience this Sunday of seeing a performance based on a script I had written. It wasn’t in a theater, but at church. I wrote the script for the Christmas pageant this year, acted out by our youth. I built it around the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 1 and 2.
I deliberately kept out of most of the rehearsals, which probably isn’t how playwrights normally work. I wanted the youth to adapt the language of the play to their everyday use of language and phrasing (they made fun of me for using ‘dude’). They opted to film the dream scenes, rather than acting them out live. That allowed for some nice effects in the video editing.
I was pleased to have people laugh in some of the right places. A few things didn’t work quite the way I would have liked. I thought I had changed a couple of things in the script that were still there in the end, and didn’t quite fit with scripture.
Anybody who would like to adapt the script may feel free to do so. I pasted it in below, due to some uploading issues with my outdated version of Wordpress.
Do drop me a line if you use it, or have questions about it.
I’ll post a video from it when it’s ready.
A Dream of Christmas
A nativity pageant in one act
By Michael Fitzgerald
Teen 1 –
Teen 2 –
Teen 3 –
Shepherd 1 –
Shepherd 2 –
Shepherd 3 –
Shepherd 4 –
Shepherd 5 –
Shepherd 6 –
Angel of the Lord –
Guest at the Inn
Wise man 1 –
Wise man 2 –
Wise man 3 –
[Three teens talking in a cafeteria or other environment]
Teen 1: You know, I don’t buy that story about how Jesus came to earth. If I were God, I would come in a flying chariot with a great sound system, and people would know who I was!
Teen 2: I don’t know. God tried that, and it didn’t work.
Teen 3. What do you mean? I don’t remember Bible stories involving God flying a chariot.
Teen 2: Well, not exactly. But God parted the Red Sea, which is a pretty neat trick. And the Hebrews, they turned right around and created the Golden Calf. Lots of the Old Testament stories see God giving visible signs to the Hebrews, trying to get them to pay attention. Maybe God wants followers who want to follow, and not just because they think they better do it or else.
Teen 1: Maybe, but I think God went about it all wrong. Who wants a helpless baby as God?
Teen 2: We should talk about this some more at youth group; I have to go home and get ready for school tomorrow.
Teen 3: Me, too
Teen 1: Okay, see ya.
[We see Teen 1 at a desk, homework in front of her.]
Teen 1: Confirmation class is so much work! The pastor is making us memorize practically the entire Bible. I think I’ll take a nap…
[Outside of Bethlehem. A man stands next to a donkey carrying a pregnant woman. The man is poking at his cell phone. He gets increasingly agitated.]
Joseph [angry]: Aargh. Hotels.com says every hotel and inn in the area is booked. How can this be?
Mary [sighs]: Joey, didn’t you book the room before we left?
Joseph: How was I supposed to know they’d fill up? Nobody goes to Bethlehem, honey. How many people could possibly need to come back for the census?
Mary: I keep telling you, that cell phone isn’t God. And even if it were, God doesn’t make rooms miraculously appear.
Joseph: We’ll find something when we get there. Somebody’s bound to not show up.
[Wayfarer’s Inn. It’s dark. Joseph is banging on the door.]
Voice: Hey, keep it down out there! We’re trying to sleep!
Joseph [ignores voice, keeps banging]: Innkeeper! Hello?!
[Mary covers her eyes and shakes her head. Then she pulls out her ipad.]
Innkeeper: Dude! It’s really late. Didn’t you see the sign? We don’t have any rooms.
Joseph [pleading]: What’s up with that? We couldn’t even get in at the youth hostel.
Innkeeper: There’s a big game tomorrow. We’re playing the Philistines.
Joseph [smacks his head]: Oh, that’s right! I forgot about that. What do you think our chances are?
Innkeeper. I don’t know. They’re pretty tough this year. Really, we haven’t had a good team since Samson cut his hair.
Joseph: Yeah, he was a great player! Remember that time he just crushed them?
Innkeeper: I sure do! Man, that rocked!
[Innkeeper and Joseph both look up, sheepish.]
Innkeeper [after awkward pause]. Anyway, I’m really sorry, but we’re full.
Joseph: But, dude, my wife is really pregnant! Look at her! I can’t have her just sleeping outside.
Mary: Say, I see from your web page that you’ve got a good-sized stable. Is that full?
Joseph: Yo, M, you can’t sleep in the barn!
Mary: Joey, it will be fine.
Innkeeper: Well, there is a little area where servants sometimes sleep, and that is available. I’ll get you some fresh hay.
[Later that night, in the rural areas outside Bethlehem]
Shepherds with their flocks [some younger kids]. The shepherds stare at their phone or tablet apps
Shepherd 1: Ok, Sheep Detector Night Time Vision edition shows 13 sheep over by the fence, 15 sheep by the tree, and one moving at high speed off the screen…hey, wait – that’s a wolf with my lamb!
Shepherd 2: Dude, that’s your sheepdog.
Shepherd 1: Oh. Right.
Angel appears: Have no fear! I bring good news!
Shepherds babble about Fruit Ninja scores.
[Angel looks around. Sighs. Clears throat.]
Angel [loudly]: Have no fear! I bring good news!
[Shepherds still don’t look up.]
[Angel stomps his feet, glowers.]
Angel: Kids this millennium! I swear.
[Takes out cell phone, taps on it. On screen flashes the words: “Check it: Christ the Savior=born! Go 2 manger in D’s Town!”
Shepherds’ phones buzz [with Hark The Herald Angels ring tone]. ]
Shepherd 2: Hey, the Savior is born! Awesome!
Shepherd 1: Savior? Why would the Savior need to be born?
Shepherd 2: I dunno. Let’s go check it out!
Shepherd 1: Well, I did just get a high score on Fruit Ninja. I guess I’ll go.
[interlude: A youth plays Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or other appropriate piece on the piano. Alternatively, a youth choir could perform a song like Go Tell It on the Mountain]
[At the manger. Gathered are shepherds on one side, with some sheep. Angels. Joseph, Mary and a baby. ]
Mary: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
[Enter Three wise men, bearing gifts.]
1st wise man: After you.
2nd wise man: No, after you!
3RDwise man: I am the oldest, I should go last.
1st wise man: All right, rock paper scissors.
[Myrhh is brought forward.]
Joseph: Hey, that’s nice. My hands get rough in the winter.
[Mary makes a face.]
[Frankincense is brought forward.]
Joseph: We could’ve used some of that last night. It smells like a barn in here.
[Mary elbows him.]
[Gold is brought forward.]
Joseph: Hey, thanks – now we can send him to college!
[Mary rolls her eyes.]
[In the background, shepherds are shooting photos.]
Shepherd 4: Hey, the baby isn’t in focus. It looks like just bright light!
Shepherd 5: I’m having the same problem.
Shepherd 6: The angels told us that we would find here a child lying in a manger who is our Saviour. We did not believe, but we are amazed at what we see.
[Mary and Joseph smile.]
[Angels sing [insert song here from youth choir]]
[Teens gather again.]
Teen 1: You won’t believe this dream I had. There were angels, and shepherds, only the shepherds were using iPads and stuff. And Jesus, well, Jesus was this cute little baby. Only the baby just showed up in pictures like a bright light.
Teen 2: It sounds glorious.
Teen 3: Still think that was the wrong way for God to appear on Earth? Just the way we do?
Teen 1: Nobody brought me college tuition when I was born.
Teen 2: What are you talking about?
Teen 1: In my dream, these guys brought presents, and one of them brought gold. Joseph thanked him for taking care of college tuition.
Teen 2: He did?
Teen 3: I think you’re dreaming about how you’re going to pay for college.
Teen 1: Well, it was pretty exciting in its own way, I guess. And it does make sense to me that if God wanted to experience what it was like to be us, being a baby was the way to start. Say, I wonder if Jesus had to go through confirmation class.
Teen 2: That’s a whole different story.