(Emily and Suzanne are setting their chairs behind a card table and preparing to begin
auditions for the church Christmas play.)
Suzanne: Emily, I can’t believe you volunteered to do this Christmas program for church. And I can’t believe you talked me into helping. I must be insane!
Emily: Oh, come on, Suzanne! It’ll be fun!
Suzanne: For who? I’m supposed to be home right now watching the football game. That would have been fun!
Emily: Well, for what it’s worth, I appreciate your help. Should we get started?
(They sit down.)
Suzanne: (dryly) Let the fun begin.
(“Mary” and “Joseph” enter. “Mary” has a pillow under her shirt.)
Emily: Okay, “Mary” and “Joseph,” why don’t we start with the part where you’re traveling on the road to Bethlehem?
(“Mary” and “Joseph” start walking slowly, not looking at the scripts in their hands. All through “Mary’s” dialogue, “Joseph” keeps trying to say something.)
Mary: Joseph, can we please rest? My feet are killing me! Look, I’m waddling! I’m worse than the donkey. Why must we go all the way to Bethlehem? My mother always warned me to marry someone from Nazareth so we wouldn’t have to travel for taxes. And speaking of which, these taxes-
Emily: (stands up) Stop! What happened to what’s written in the script?!
Mary: Well, I just thought Mary could use a little more character-
Emily: A little more character? Do you really think Mary would have complained like that? She was chosen of God to bear His Son! Sorry, but I don’t think we’ll be using you for the play.
(“Mary” and “Joseph” leave.)
Emily: (sits down) What was she thinking? (Suzanne shrugs.) Next!
(“Innkeeper” enters and immediately begins his speech with lots of drama.)
Innkeeper: Bring me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Emily: And…who are you supposed to be?
Innkeeper: Why, the innkeeper, of course!
Suzanne: But the innkeeper wasn’t inviting anyone to his inn; he was sending them away.
Emily: If you’re willing to stick to the one line in the script, then we could certainly use you.
Innkeeper: (sighs) All right. I suppose. (Starts to walk away, then turns back) Do you think there will be a Fourth of July play?
Angel: I’d like to try out for the angel who appears to the shepherds.
Emily: Okay. Go ahead and say your lines.
Angel: Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (Breaks into song.) “For unto us a child is born. Unto us, a Son is given. Unto us, a Son is given. And His name shall be call-ed Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!” (Ends singing.) And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(Emily and Suzanne look at each other in awe.)
Emily: Wow…you’re hired!
Emily: Yep! You can even do that singing thing. (cheerfully) Next!
(“Angel” leaves and two “shepherds” enter.)
Shepherd 1: We want to be the shepherds.
Emily: Okay. Why don’t you say the lines right after the angel comes?
Shepherd 2: Um, what about before the angel comes?
Emily: (confused) But the shepherds don’t have any lines until after the angel comes.
Shepherd 1: We know, but we want to add a scene. We have it all worked out, can we show you? It would provide a little comedy relief.
Emily: (to Suzanne) Does a Christmas play need comedy relief?
Suzanne: Let ‘em try. What could it hurt?
Emily: Oh, all right. Let’s hear it.
(Shepherd 1 settles down as if trying to get some sleep, while Shepherd 2 pretends to keep watch.)
Shepherd 2: (glances suddenly to the side) What was that?!
Shepherd 1: (sits up) What? What was what?
Shepherd 2: Oh, never mind. Must’ve been my imagination. Sorry.
(Shepherd 1 lays back down.)
Shepherd 2: Do you hear that?
Shepherd 1: (sits up again) What? I don’t hear anything!
Shepherd 2: Sorry, I thought I heard something. (pause) Look over there! Is it just me or are those bushes moving?
Shepherd 1: (jumps up to look) It’s just the wind!
Shepherd 2: My mistake. You can’t be too careful, you know.
Shepherd 1: Yeah…right. (to himself) I don’t know how anyone can survive the whole night watch with you. (they stop acting)
Shepherd 2: Well, what did you think? Any good?
Emily: I’ll have to think about it and get back to you. Thanks, guys.
Emily: I can’t believe this! Doesn’t anyone think the play is good enough? Why do they have to keep adding things? I mean, Christmas is about Jesus, isn’t it? Or am I just getting too old-fashioned?!
Suzanne: Hey, I agree with you. But it seems like everyone else wants to be the star of the show. Let’s keep going, and maybe we’ll find someone out there who feels the way we do.
Emily: You’re right. I’m just making a big deal out of this. At least you’re with me. Next!
(Three “wisemen” enter.)
Wiseman 1: We’d like to try out for the wisemen.
Emily: (warily) Okay…
Wiseman 2: And we were hoping we could sing a song.
Emily: (thinks about it) Well…I guess so. What about “We Three Kings”?
Wiseman 3: Um, we had a little something else in mind. Could we sing it for you?
Emily: (sighs) Sure.
(All three sing in “munchkin” style to the tune of “We Represent the Lollipop Guild” from “The Wizard of Oz.”)
“We’re wisemen from a distant land;
We’ve come to see the newborn King.
And we’ve been foll’wing yonder star
To bring Him frankincense and gold and myrrh.”
Suzanne: (laughs) That was great! Could we hear it again?
Emily: Suzanne! Look, we’ll use you, but not the song, okay?
(“Wisemen” leave, dejected.)
Emily: It’s hopeless! Christmas is a lost cause!
Suzanne: Oh, I don’t know. Who wants a traditional Christmas play anyway? We could revolutionize the entire Christmas scene! Just think of it- complaining Mary’s, patriotic innkeepers, annoying shepherds, singing wisemen…
Emily: Enough! (laughs) Well, one thing I learned. This will be the first and last time I head up a Christmas pageant. Let someone else do it if they think they can do it better.
Suzanne: But Emily, don’t you see? If that happens, then Christmas really will be a lost cause! God needs people like us to keep telling the story…the true story!
Emily: (encouraged) You know what? You’re right! People may want to sugar-coat and secularize the gospel, but we have to keep telling it like it is, whether anyone likes it or not.
Suzanne: That’s the spirit!
Emily: (with energy) All right, Suzanne! Let’s get this Christmas play on the road. And let’s make sure everyone know that the star character is Christ. Next!