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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: It's Still Wrapped
By Jan Ackerson


The curtain rises on a stage totally filled with the trunk and lower branches of an enormous Christmas tree, decorated with twinkling lights, giant candy canes, and huge, colorful ornaments.

After a beat, a stagehand dressed in coveralls enters with a large present on a dolly. The gift is at least five feet tall; he struggles to transfer it from the dolly to the stage.

When the present is in place under the tree, the stagehand leans on the dolly, wiping his brow with a bandana. He noisily blows his nose into the same scrap of fabric. When the audience laughs, he looks up, giving them a sheepish grin and a wave before leaving the stage.

Another beat, and he returns, this time with a second stagehand. Together they are carrying an enormous package, obviously heavy. They carefully ease it to the floor beside the first gift.

For the next few minutes, this activity continues. The stage beneath the tree is a large turntable, and after every two or three gifts is set into place, this rotates so that the stagehands葉here are several of them now預re always depositing the gifts more or less at center stage.

The stagehands do not speak, but occasionally there is a small, humorous moment: one present is thumped heavily on the foot of a hapless worker, another is obviously too cumbersome for the lone man who carries it and he drops it to the floor from several feet up. There is the sound of the tinkling of glass, and the stagehand looks around guiltily, then hurries offstage. One present is seen to jiggle and twitch a bit until the turntable takes it out of sight.

Finally, the stage is full of gifts. The workers stand at stage left, admiring the tree and the enormous gifts. One of them smokes a cigarette.

For just a few seconds, the house lights go out. When the lights return, the stagehands have left. The turntable starts up, stopping when a huge gift wrapped in blue is front and center. Through backlighting, the audience can see that inside the package is a shiny new bicycle. The bike remains backlit for a bit, then all lights go out. Seated in the dark, the audience hears the ripping of paper, excited shouts, the honking of a bicycle horn.

When the lights come on again, the bicycle package is gone. The turntable starts up.

This begins a sequence of light, motion, and sound that continues through several cycles. No words are ever distinguishable葉he voices are heard as if from a great distance, but the emotions are always evident.

Lights on葉he turntable spins
Backlit gift: a sparkling, boxed engagement ring
Lights off: sounds of ripping paper, ooohing, loud smooching
Lights on葉he turntable spins
Backlit gift: a large ragdoll with red yarn hair
Lights off: paper ripping, girlish giggles
Lights on葉he turntable spins
Backlit gift: puppy. A person in a dog costume prances and paws from inside the gift previously seen twitching
Lights off: paper ripping, yip yip, slurping and laughter
Lights on葉he turntable spins
Backlit gift: several pairs of argyle socks
Lights off: ripping, groans of disappointment

Finally, only one present remains. Backlighting reveals a rugged wooden cross.

When the lights are extinguished, there is only silence in the theater. No wrapping paper ripping, no shouts of delight. Simply silence.

After perhaps twenty seconds, the lights return. A stagehand appears at stage right, fiddling with an array of dials and knobs. Nothing happens, and he turns to the audience with an exaggerated shrug.

Lights off. No sounds.

Lights on. The stagehand returns with a co-worker. They fiddle with the dials again, occasionally pointing at the package and bending their heads over the controls. Together, they stroll over to the gift and adjust its position on the floor, then fiddle again.

Lights off. No sounds.

A longer pause. After 45 seconds, the house lights return. The stagehands all enter and begin to dismantle the enormous tree branches. Some pack ornaments and lights onto carts and wheel them offstage. Everyone ignores the final package.

At last, there is nothing left on stage but the backlit package containing the cross. The lights remain on until finally the audience comes to the realization that the show is over.
They file out restlessly, sometimes glancing back at the stage: have they missed something?

No, the cross is still there, still wrapped耀till wrapped, in shimmering gold paper and a deep red bow.

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This article has been read 1122 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leigh MacKelvey11/21/08
It's Still Unwrapped! Exactly. How sad. I love the stage directions, the no distinguishable voices and the form of the writing. this was a a wonderful way of stressing the real meaning of Christmas and the emotion God must feel.
Scott Sheets11/21/08
Extremely powerful! I would be interested in using a modified version of this in an actual skit. I too felt like I was part of the audience watching the comedic actions of the stage hands, viewing the backlit presents, and hearing the laughter, groans and sounds. Very well-written!
Marita Vandertogt11/23/08
Very unique and creative approach to the topic...I felt like I was actually in the audience watching everything unfold, so to speak. Great ending - great message.
cindy yarger11/23/08
Way out of the box - and yet still in it :) ...!!
Joanne Sher 11/23/08
Just incredible. Totally out of the box, and incredibly creative, and WHAT a message. Masterfully masterful. Wow.
Beth LaBuff 11/23/08
Wonderful symbolism with the package with gold paper and deep red bow. I'd love to see this acted out. Very creative!
Betty Castleberry11/24/08
I wanna ticket to this awesome play. Great message. Two thumbs up.
Chely Roach11/24/08
Oooo, loved that last line. What a disturbing (but accurate) portrayal of our society. Loved it.
Connie Dixon11/25/08
I would love to do this as a drama for one of our Christmas Services sometime. What an imagination. Thank you!
Lynda Schultz 11/25/08
Wow. This is amazing!
Carole Robishaw 11/25/08
This is really a deep message. I would have liked to actually have been there, though I felt like I was. Excellent writing.
Dianne Janak11/26/08
The best gift of all and the whole reason for the holiday... right on and OUCH and bravo for a well written creative thought-provoking piece. Hit me in the heart!
Teresa Lee Rainey11/26/08
Wow. (speachless). . .
Laury Hubrich 11/26/08
I really enjoyed this entry!
Marijo Phelps11/26/08
Totally creative and incredible! Great story and wonderful play! (OK, I want to know if we can sign up to have your "computer chip" put in our brains!) How do you think of all these things? THANKS!
Diana Dart 11/26/08
Fantastic - yet again (here's me not surprised). The suspense was wonderful and I loved the descriptions of the stagehand's actions. Nice and most definitely a winner.
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
Indeed, center stage and we miss the greatest gift of all! Wonderful presentation/production of this message. Loren
Pamela Kliewer11/26/08
Wow. Thank you. Very creative, well written - you've touched my heart today.
Karlene Jacobsen11/26/08
WOW! It's all I can say. What a message!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/26/08
Awesome writing and message. Thanks for allowing your creativity to be used for His glory.
Joshua Janoski11/26/08
Would love to see this actually acted out on a live stage. Wow. This is an accurate portrayal of Christmas today. We so often forget the cross, but that doesn't change the fact that the gift still remains there. Thank you for sharing this much needed message.
Norma-Anne Hough11/27/08
I felt the suspense throughout. If only we would remember the cross, not only on christmas day but always.
What a message.
Connie Dixon11/28/08
Had to add this to my favorites. The ending causes me to just sit and wonder how the audience might be touched by this drama.
c clemons11/29/08
Very imaginative although the gift was chld, the cross was what he did at calvary. I know I can be a bit tecnical but it is what it is. Fortunately I get your drift. Also fortunately he was not for the world per se, but those who would be believe, so there are millions who have received the gift and rejoice daily because of it.