TROUBLED ABOUT MANY THINGS
(A one-woman oral interpretation)
[At Start: Stage is in darkness]
(Narrator heard off stage)
NARRATOR: Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
[Lights up. We see the interior of a dining room - daytime.]
MARTHA, a woman in her forties, dressed in an apron is setting a table. She has a towel slung over her shoulder. She is talking to herself.
(Wiping her brow)
MARTHA: Working and serving. Working and serving. That's all I do. There's so little time. (Mutters) What do I mean, so little time?
(Speaking in normal tones again; but still to herself) Today, there's no time.
[Vigorously wipes a plate with the towel slung over her shoulder]
People are here and still more pouring in.
[She peers off stage as though looking into another room; Returns to setting the table]
I really wish I could have gotten this all done before his presence was fully known or at least before the crowd got so big. Like it was in the early days. I knew there would be a lot of people coming round when they heard he was often here; but, my goodness, I certainly didn't expect the kind of crowd that's out there.
(Shaking her head in sympathy) Look at that great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for him to touch them. They're just plain pitiful.
Impressed) Of course, there are some important political folk and religious leaders out there, too. Always hoped to have their kind in my house.
[She looks toward the audience and begins to speak to an unseen guest.]
Hey why are you here in the serving area? You couldn't get to him through the crowd?
(Exasperated) I see you're still straining to see and hear him though.
(To herself) I'm so tired.
[She plops down to the table.]
(Wipes her brow) I love him. Really I do. I think I demonstrate it. Certainly, my actions speak much louder than my sister's. Look at her.
She's just sitting there. I asked him to tell her to help me. Do you know what he said to me?
(Pauses as though waiting for a response)
Martha, Martha, he says to me, you are weighed down by too many cares.
(Throws her hands up) Weighed down by cares? Of course, I have cares. I care about him and I care about his reputation.
(Gossipy) You know there are people who don't believe he's who he really is.
(Defensively) If I don't do things the right way when he's at my house, they might say it proves he can't be true.
(Protectively) He's my friend. I'm faithful to that relationship. I have a responsibility to make sure that when he comes to my house, everything is decent and in order.
[Looks at the audience inquisitively]
Do you know what I mean? It's got to be done decently and in order. There's protocol, customs. And, well, there's tradition.
[She gets up and walks up stage and sits on a stool closer to the audience.]
(Looks directly at someone in the audience) Since when does the hostess sit down at the feet of the honored guest when there's serving to be done? Serving! I mean the role of the heads of the house is to see that everybody and everything is taken care of. Right?
(Rubs her chin pensively) But he said she's chosen the better part. She's just resting; how's resting the better part?
[Gets up and rubs the back of her neck.]
(Addressing the audience) I am so very tired. I don't mean tired in my body; though, my energy level does get low at times. No, it's the emotional drain of giving directions, being a shoulder to cry on for my sister and brother and doing all this stuff.
(Defensively) You're looking like you think I brought this on my self. Well, he chose me – us, Mary, Lazarus and me. He chose us. We should do something to show our appreciation. But, no, she leaves me to serve alone and just rests at his feet.
(Confused) Still, he says it's the best thing to do and he won't tell her to do anything differently. He said it's needful.
(Enlightened) Needful. He said it's needful.
[To the audience] Rest is needful, he said.
[Carefully folds and places the towel on the table. Looks toward stage left and begins to walk purposefully in that direction.]
[Addressing the audience] He said rest is needful. I think I shall believe him and trust him. I think I shall rest.
[Looks directly at someone in the audience]
Won't you come with me and sit at his feet, too?
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