SYNOPSIS: Based on a story of one of the Covenanters of 17th century Scotland, the drama vacillates between scenes from the story of 18 year-old Margaret in Scotland and modern day high school or college student Greg, who finds it hard to share his faith. In the end he is as committed to the faith as Margaret was as he declares his dependence on the only One capable of lighting the fire within - Jesus Christ. Note: Due to the subject matter this script may not be suitable for younger audiences
17th Century Cast
RICHARD - 20-something aristocrat
MARGARET # 1 - an 18 year-old martyr
MARGARET # 2 - an older woman who is also a martyr
GUARD # 1 - zealous in the performance of his duties
GUARD # 2 - not quite as zealous and is saddened by what happens to Margaret MAGISTRATE - the judge Also a few non-speaking extras
Modern Day Cast - all 17-24 years of age
Other non-speaking parts in final sequence
PROPS: As simple or elaborate as desired. The set needs to be useful to both a modern day cast as well as 17th century Scottish cast. It may prove easier to let the audience imagine the setting and simply rely on costumes and props.
Author's Note: A brief explanation of the Covenanters prior to the drama or as part of the performance handout might be useful. Others may simply be content to make it known that this story was based on an actual event of Christian persecution, which takes place around the globe every day. This should serve as an example that we should often take our faith more seriously than we do.
MARGARET: (Carefree) Dearest Richard, this has been a glorious afternoon. I have so needed this.
RICHARD: Indeed, difficulties have plagued the family Wilson.
MARGARET: (Sudden sorrow) That they have, (Pause and then composed) but today you have given me a rare and priceless gift - forgetfulness.
RICHARD: Anything for the radiant Margaret Wilson.
MARGARET: (Embarrassed) I thank you again, sir.
RICHARD: It was a pleasure.
MARGARET: I am sorry to leave so soon Richard, Mum will be worried, I must return home. Please know that I will not soon forget your kindness this day.
RICHARD: (Kindly) Have you made an decision yet, my lady? I fear I can not wait many days more for an answer.
MARGARET: You know my father perished in the Bishop's War, Richard. My family needs me. I can't...
RICHARD: (Defensive) Are you so unaware of my holdings. I could amply provide for your Scottish kinsman.
MARGARET: (Pause) I know this to be true, but...
RICHARD: (Slightly angered) Don't tell me, it is your religion that prevents our union?
MARGARET: Richard, please don't spoil this perfect day.
RICHARD: (Still angry) Come dear Margaret, (Picks up a wine glass) prove those wrong that have whispered unkind words about you in my presence. A toast to the King. Surely it does no one ill to drink to the health of the king. Just one simple toast. Prove your loyalty this day.
MARGARET: I can not, Richard. The King demands our allegiance while demanding that we obey his commands even in reference to our very faith. Toast the King? How could I do such a thing and maintain a pure conscience before God Almighty.
RICHARD: (Suddenly tenderly) So young, beautiful, and utterly misguided. (Almost pleading) It is a simple toast, fair Margaret. There may yet be time.
MARGARET: Be that as it may, I could no more do such a thing as I could fly like a bird.
RICHARD: (Chuckles) This is ridiculous, my dear. (Margaret turns away as Richard becomes stern once again) I give you yet one more chance. DRINK! (Trusts the glass before her).
MARGARET: Please, Richard.
RICHARD: I did not want to believe what I had heard, Margaret. Yet, I must admit I was not told the half of your stubbornness and utter lack of honor and respect for the king. (Angry) If you will not drink then you will be confined with the malcontents of Thieves Hole. GUARDS!!! (Two guards enter).
MARGARET: Richard? (Clings to his arm. He pulls her arm off of him)
RICHARD: You have made your choice. (To the guards) Take her away.
GUARD # 1: As you wish, sire!
MARGARET: (Stunned) I will pray for you.
RICHARD: Do I need your prayers? It is you - my lady - who are in need of divine assistance. Who can intercede for you now? One simple toast, that was all I asked. A simple gesture. You were so close to becoming part of Scottish aristocracy, now I fear there is no remedy for your utter disregard for our sovereign king.
MARGARET: He is your king, Richard. Not mine.
RICHARD: (Grabs her arm) Speak no more, wretched Margaret. Let me show you out! (All four players walk off stage as modern day young man walks on opposite side of stage with two friends - one male one female).
GREG: (Serious) Would you two like to come to a gathering this weekend? A few friends from my church are getting together and I thought...
TARA: (Giggles) You can't be serious!
PAUL: (Looks at Greg) I think he is.
GREG: (Self-conscious) I just thought...
TARA: (Interrupts) Greg, church was cute when we were younger, but seriously, it seems a little outdated don't you think?
PAUL: Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and God. Isn't that the trinity?
(Laughter as Tara and Paul walk off stage).
GREG: (Looks up and prays) God, I wish I had the strength to stand strong for You. It seems so hard to tell others about You without feeling like I'm insane. I know You are real, but sometimes it seems impossible to let other people know how I feel. I need Your help. (Walks off stage)
(GUARD and Two Margaret's walk on stage - clothes and hair in disarray).
GUARD: Move it. Do you think I have nothing else to do but watch over the likes of you? (Looks at the women) Stand over there! (The guard leaves the stage)
MARGARET # 1: (Looks at Margaret # 2) Hello.
MARGARET # 2: What?
MARGARET # 1: Hello, (Pause and extends her hand in greeting) my name is Margaret.
MARGARET # 2: (Laughs at the irony as she shakes her hand)
MARGARET # 1: What is wrong, mum?
MARGARET # 2: (Smiles) Your name is Margaret?
MARGARET # 1: Certainly it is.
MARGARET # 2: (Smile) It seems we have something in common. (Margaret # 1 looks confused) our names and being prisoners of the Commonwealth, that's what.
MARGARET # 1: Your name is Margaret?
MARGARET # 2: Indeed, child. The past few months have not been kind to "Margaret, The Older" - nor does it appear to have been kind to the young Margaret before me.
MARGARET # 1: Why did they put you here?
MARGARET # 2: (Smiles) Oh, now there is a tale. You see, I am the vilest of criminals.
MARGARET # 1: I find that most difficult to believe.
MARGARET # 2: Oh, 'tis true, deary, (Conspiratorial) They caught me in the act of prayer - in my own home. (Coughs)
MARGARET # 1: (Emotional) Dear Margaret, the world has gone mad. Completely mad.
MARGARET # 2: (Nods in agreement) I am to be sentenced soon, so I have been told. (Pause then looks at Margaret # 1) Yet, I think you must have a story to tell, dear Margaret. Why have you come to Thieves Hole?
MARGARET # 1: I refused to drink to the health of the king.
MARGARET # 2: (Mock scolding) Dear child, I am surprised that the King has not already perished from the lack of your good will. Certainly his health must be failing even as we speak.
(Both women laugh)
GUARD # 1: (Walks back on stage and looks at the two women) You two, the magistrate is ready to pronounce sentence. (They seem uncertain of how to respond) Come on - MOVE! (All three walk off stage as Greg walks back on with Paul opposite stage)
PAUL: (Gentle) Look Greg, I know you believe in all that religious stuff and that's all right - for you. Tara and I heard all about it growing up and we think Christianity is simply one of many ways to find some peace of mind. I respect your belief, but...
GREG: You want to be left alone. (A statement not a question)
PAUL: (Tries to come up with the right word) Yes. There's a lot of religions out there Greg, and I have the rest of my life to decide which is right for me. Like they say, all roads lead to heaven, my friend.
GREG: (Defensive) But that's not true, Jesus said I am the way, the truth and...
PAUL: (Interrupts) You see, that is just what I was talking about, Greg. I simply don't want to hear anymore. (Pause, as Greg looks dejected) Come on, we're friends let's not make a big deal out of this, OK? Come on I'll buy you lunch.
(GREG looks conflicted as he follows Paul off the stage - Two Guards, two Margaret's and a few other 17th century actors come onto the stage awaiting sentencing - the magistrate enters and looks with disapproval at the women whose backs are to the audience)
MAGISTRATE: I understand that you two have become good friends while (Said with contempt) guests of the Commonwealth. Further, I understand that you two share first names (Looks at a parchment in front of him) Margaret is it? Yes. Since crimes have been committed and neither of you wish to be separated from the other. It is this court's desire that you would indeed share the same sentence. I can assure you that both of you will stay together. (The women hug each other at what they think is good news) It is the decision of this court that both of your lives be forfeit by drowning this very day.
MARGARET # 1: (In disbelief) What?
MAGISTRATE: Indeed! You, and others like you are a troublesome lot; refusing to follow the edicts of the Commonwealth and flaunting your refusal by using religion as if it were a cloak of protection. However, today you will learn that the Commonwealth is indeed greater than your confounded stubbornness. God will be honored today, but not by your refusal to justly honor the King. You will join the ranks of deluded men and women who have refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Commonwealth and its most gracious king. (An unsaid offer) I am most gratified that many have seen the grievous errors of the path you now trod and have returned to the benevolent embrace of the Commonwealth. (Turns to the Guard # 1) It is low tide. Take these two and fasten them to stakes in the salt flats on the Solway coast, let the tide take them to their (pause and with great cynicism) everlasting reward. May God have mercy on your souls.
(The Guard removes the two women from the stage as everyone except guard # 2 and the Magistrate remain on stage, they are joined by Richard - once everyone is gone the three engage in brief conversation.)
MAGISTRATE: Make sure the older one is staked closer to the water, when she dies the younger one will renounce her misguided faith and she will be left with little more than an unpleasant memory..
RICHARD: Perhaps I may yet wed the beautiful Margaret. (Looks at the guard) She did not look well, are you sure she was taken care of as a ward of the Commonwealth?
GUARD # 2: Well, I...
MAGISTRATE: Come now Richard, you can not blame the Commonwealth for the way they treat our nations traitors. (Pause) Console yourself in this, my friend, if she recants, you may wed her soon. I would think she would consider carefully and future acts of disobedience against the Commonwealth or you, my friend.
RICHARD: (Visibly shaken) How was I to know it would come to this? (Pause) I just want this to end!
MAGISTRATE: (Smiles menacingly) Never fear, Richard. I can say with absolute assurance that this horrid affair will indeed end today. (Then to the guard) Go man, the tide rises.
GUARD # 2: (Not enthusiastic) As you wish, my lord.
MAGISTRATE: Is anything wrong?
GUARD # 2 (Perks up) By all means, no my lord. It shall be as you say.
MAGISTRATE: (Doubtful) Indeed. (All three walk off stage)
(TARA & PAUL walk back on stage)
PAUL: You know I sometimes feel sorry for Greg.
TARA: (Spitefully) Why?
PAUL: He means well. He's not dangerous or anything.
TARA: But he is spineless. If he really believes in God like he says why doesn't he talk about it.
PAUL: (Chuckles at the irony) Maybe because we tell him not to.
TARA: Come on, Paul. When I really believe something I don't ask if it's OK with you if I tell you about it - I just tell you.
PAUL: (Jokingly) Yeah, and some of the stuff you come up with scares me.
TARA: The point is, Greg won't do that.
PAUL: We don't exactly make it easy for him to do. (Greg enters stage but Tara and Paul don't notice him)
TARA: Look, if he really believes in something then he'll tell us when it's important enough to him. Hey, I might even believe what he tells me, but until it's the most important thing in his life, I don't want to hear it. (PAUL and TARA walk off stage - Greg remains as a Celtic instrumental version of "Be Thou My Vision" plays very lightly in the background. Greg assumes an attitude of prayer)
NOTE: It is at this point that we hear the beginning of the finale from the 17th century cast. All dialogue from this cast happens off stage and mic'd. This dialogue happens in tandem with Greg's prayer on stage. Ocean wave sound effects should accompany the song and gradually increase in volume)
GREG: Oh God, why is it so hard to tell others about You.
GUARD # 1: Do you see that? Your dear friend is dead. (Margaret yelps) Look at her lifeless body. It is simple really - swear allegiance to the King and I shall set you free.
MARGARET # 1: (Crying) Margaret, dear Margaret!
GREG: I read my Bible, I pray and I want to see my friends come to know You, but I'm like a candle in the wind, I burn brightly until a puff of disbelief comes along and the flame dies.
GUARD # 2: (Kindly) The waves continue to rise, my lady. Save yourself. Look, Richard is waiting for you, simply swear allegiance to the King and you will be released.
MARGARET # 1: (Pause) I (Gasps for air) cannot.
GREG: I am tired of good intentions, Lord. I want to be effective in telling my friends about You. I want to be bold in living a life that represents my passion for You.
GUARD # 1: Hold her face out of the water. (Pause) Good. (Said sharply as Margaret chokes and gasps for air) This is your final chance, wretched girl.. Do you wish to die? Pray for the King!
MARGARET # 1: (Emotional) Lord, (cough) give the king repentance, forgiveness and salvation if it be Thy Holy will.
GUARD # 1: You wicked troubler of Scotts, soon your very breath will betray you.
GREG: Father, Light the fire again. When disbelief takes the flame away, light the fire again.
MARGARET # 1: (Chokes, gasps and weeps) I am one of God's children - let me go!
GREG: When I am uncertain what my friends will think, light the fire again. As I live for you, light the fire again.
GUARD # 1: I do indeed release you, my lady. Your grave awaits.
MARGARET: (Gasps) In the name of Jesus. (Music and sound effects end abruptly)
GREG: (Pause for a few seconds for emotional impact) Amen. (Remains on stage with head bowed as stage fades to black)
Play the video "Hearts United from the enhanced CD "Celtic Cry" - Discovery House Music. (Video centers around a monument to the Covenanters of Scotland).
written by Matthew Ward
I never knew you, but I know your heart
We've never spoken, but I hear your voice
I've never seen you, but I know you're near
Foundations laid, the way is paved
Now I walk in a brighter day
The things you walked through I can't understand
Your sacrifice, I may never know
I only pray that if my time should come,
I can stand for what I know is right
Great saints of the faith, steadfast and true,
Holding out the light for all to see
Brothers and sisters of the one true God,
Hearts united to serve their king
One day I'll stand with all these saints
And I will know what is unknown
And I'll proclaim with others there
About the King that we all share
Copyright 2002 by Glenn A. Hascall (With special thanks to Chris Kuck and John McNeil who provided expert review and suggestions) Notable exception - Lyrics printed above. If you use this script would you please be so kind as to let us know? firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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This well written, and I too would like to see it performed. The writing moves along well, and it could be done with a minimum of props. All important factors. Good job. I wrote a short skit about persecution a while back but I don't think I still have it. I have worked with in the past, and still follow, the Voice of the Martyrs ministry. The interesting thing is you don't have to go so far back in history for such stories. Many still happen today. www.persecution.org You might also be interested in reading my story, "The transcript". If you have time I also have something posted in reviews on the message boards He wore a Shell. Have a great day in the Lord. Pete
Wow! Wow! Wow! What an impact! I could hear Margaret's cry, feel her desperation. Greg's trial is so common for us all. This really moved my heart in a very supernatural way to be more bold for the Lord. I'm sure that it will have the same effect on all who read it, use it, or see it acted out.