TITLE: Life? (An easter play)
By Jessica Schmit
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(Opening Scene. A young girl let’s out a cry in terror. The following dialogue is offstage, heard over the sound system)
LITTLE GIRL: No, Dad. (Crying) Daddy? No, no, no. (Sobbing) Mom, mom do something.
(An older woman’s voice is now heard. She is also incredibly upset.)
WOMEN: Stop that man! Someone stop him! No. (Sobbing) Noooooooooooo!
(Police sirens are heard in the distance. Lights come up slowly on a court scene. On stage left sits a little girl. She is clearly visible to the audience. She is sitting with a group of observers. She’s sitting in the first row beside two other people. She sits directly behind the prosecuting attorney and the women sitting beside the prosecuting lawyer, her mother. They are the people to the voices heard before. They’re look very distraught. On center stage sits the defendant and his lawyer. The defendant is a bitter, mean looking man. He’s scruffy and un kept. His face shows no remorse. An official looking man, representing the jury enters and walks to the judge’s seat.)
JUDGE: (to man) Has the jury reached a verdict?
JURY OFFICIAL: They have your honor.
(The man hands over a piece of paper to the judge. The judge reads it over. The judge looks up and looks towards the defendant.)
JUDGE: Will the defendant please rise.
(The handcuffed defendant pushes himself up and stands proudly.)
JUDGE: On the charges of rioting the members of the jury find the defendant guilty. (Prosecutor smiles an encouraging smile towards his client, the woman)
On the charges of first-degree murder the members of the jury find the defendant (pause) guilty. (An out cry of rejoicing is heard throughout the courtroom from the crowd and the prosecuting table.)The jury herby sentences the defendant to punishment by death.
(Prosecuting attorney shakes hands with his very thankful client, the women. The women and her daughter embrace in a hug. Guards come up and get the defendant. The defendant gives a “look” towards the daughter. A creepy slow smile spreads across his face. He leave with the guards .)
Lights out. Every one exits. Lights come up on stage right. Lights are dim, you see a lone prisoner in a prison cell, lying on a bed, an ugly tattered cot. There’s another cot beside him. The prisoner looks extremely unkempt and angry. You hear the sound of two sets of footsteps, walking down a hall. They’re getting closer and closer. The footsteps stop as two figure walk on stage right. It’s a guard with the defendant who was sent to jail. They approach the cell and the guard pushes him in.
GUARD: Welcome home. (looks inside the cell). Sorry there’s no welcoming party. (The cell mate looks up and looks over at the defendant. The defendant stumbles in and the guard uncuffs him. The defendant goes over to his cot, he sits down looking lost as he looks around at his new home. There’s a long uncomfortable pause. The cell mate has lain back down once again.)
DEFENDANT: (mustering up the courage to speak. Putting on a “tough” exterior) So, what do you do for fun in here?
CELL MATE: (Pause. He speaks very slowly, eerily and with no expression) I lie here in a cold, dark cell and watch as my life passes before my eyes, with nothing I can do to stop the meaningless hours tick away my life.
DEFENDANT: (unsure) Oh. That’s deep (he says with a smirk) So, why are you in here? (No answer. He speaks with a little more force) Did you hear me? I asked you if…
CELL MATE: I heard you! (pause, threatening) You watch how you speak to me! (resuming control) I don’t believe in answering pointless questions. The only reason you want to know what my crime is, is so you can brag about what you did and how it was the most daring crime ever committed by mankind. I’m really not into pointless chatter, as it is just another reminder of how worthless my life has really become.
DEFENDANT: Man, what is wrong with you. (pause, looks around.) These bars really got to your head?
CELL MATE: No answer
DEFENDANT: (pause) I should be the one depressed. I’m the one who has to endure this place for years. Get beat, whipped and spat on until they finally decide to execute me. At least you have some hope.
CELL MATE: Right. (smirks) Hope. That word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary.
DEFENDANT: (pause) Do you think it’s too late to ask if I can switch rooms with someone a little more…upbeat.
CELL MATE: Ah, don’t worry. Today’s my last day here.
DEFENDANT: Then why are you so upset. I would kill to get where you are. Funny how that works. Killed to get in, would kill to get out. (He laughs at his own joke.)
CELL MATE: (looks disgusted by him) You’re sick.
DEFENDANT: Well, obviously I’m not the only “sick” one or I would be all alone in this cell, isn’t that right?
CELL MATE: Congratulations on your incredibly keen observation.
DEFENDANT: (pause) So, what are you going to do when you get out.
CELL MATE: I donna know. What does it matter?
DEFENDANT: Freedom doesn’t matter?
CELL MATE: Look where I am. Freedom can’t come after this. I’ll still have the memories, the scars, and the people who have lived for one single reason, to see me die. No prisoner is ever free. (Pause)They just don’t ware handcuffs anymore.
DEFENDANT: I don’t get you at all. You’re walking out those prison doors today. How much more freer can you possible be? You get to enjoy life, maybe even for the first time?!
CELL MATE: Who cares though? What’s the point? You live here for a while. Make mistakes and then die. Really, what’s the point? Why not just skip this whole part where we live and go straight to death. Life, it just …seems so pointless.
DEFENENT: (sarcastically) What? Trying to figure out the meaning of life before you’re entrance into the world?
CELL MATE: I guess you could say that.
DEFENDANT: (confidently) I figure it’s like this. We’re born and live a few years. How we’re treated and what we experience usually dictates how and what we’ll do with the rest of our lives. So, if we’re dished out good things and have a happy childhood with parents who don’t beat the living tar out of you. Friends who aren’t druggies and live in a nice part of town, you’ll end up pretty much O.K. Basically, we just kind of pass through life and do whatever comes our way. It doesn’t really matter what it is. All that matters is that you live.
CELL MATE. You sound just like I did twenty years ago.
DEFENENT: You losing your spunk?
CELL MATE: (angrily) I’m not losing anything! I’ve just grown up. Before I came in here, I saw people live lives that were happy and good. If we're going with your theory of circumstances will dictate behavior, it would be false in dealing with them. They had everything agaisnt them.
(There’s an uncomfortable pause between the two. Both look away from each other. Both are angry. All of a sudden a slow smile creeps across defendant's face)
DEFENTENT: I don’t think you’re theory of “people can live even though they’ve had it tough” will work on the family I "dealt with".
CELL MATE: (disgusted) You’re sick.
DEFENENT: (shrugs his shoulders) Maybe.
CELL MATE: (He’s upset.) You’ve wrecked your life to prove your theory. Why?
DEFENTENT: What’s to wreck? (laughing) It wasn’t worth that much anyway.
CELL MATE: If life isn’t worth much and if what we do really doesn’t matter, then why do guys like us end up here? There’s got to be some reason for life or people wouldn’t try so hard to protect it.
DEFENTETN: That, my friend, is only a matter of opinion.
CEWLL MATE: I’m not your friend.
DEFENDANT: Loosen up.
CELL MATE: I just want to know what they know. I can’t believe that I’ve lived on this earth for 45 years and have never felt like I’ve figured anything out.
DEFENDANT: Oh come-on. Robbing the rich is what gives the rest of us inspiration.
CELL MATE: Don’t say that.
DEFENDANT: It’s true.
CELL MATE: I know. (soberly) Just don’t remind me.
DEFENDANT: Man, you sound like you’re going to die. You’re going to be free in a couple of hours. Be thankful that you can have a life. (depressingly) Mine’s gone.
CELL MATE: A life? Don’t you listen to anything? There’s no such thing as having a life. (pause) It’s all… meaningless.
DEFENDANT: Well, I agree with that, but I at least gave my life some sort of meaning by accomplishing what I set out to do.
CELL MATE: What was that?
DEFENDANT: To turn crowds of people against the rulers who force conformity on everyone and...
CELL MATE: (looks at him like the guy’s crazy) Are you talking about trying to overthrow the government?
DEFENTENT: If that’s what you call rioting. (pause) And second thing I set out to do was to never let anyone get in the way of anything I wanted.
CELL MATE: What do you call jail then? Home free? Doesn’t this come in the way of your “life goals?”
DEFENDANT: No. This situation I’m in now is just the results of me achieving my goals. Some get medals and schools named after them. I get jail. But you just wait. People will remember my names for centuries to come.
CELL MATE: How can those be life goals when they caused you to end your life early?
DEFENDANT: Sometimes you just got to sacrifice for stuff you really want.
CELL MATE: Was it worth it? Giving up your freedom, your life?
DEFENDANT: When you want something, no one else will help you get there. It’s all up to you. If you won’t get yourself to that ideal place in life and accomplish your dreams, you won’t get there. In this world you can’t trust anyone. So, in answer to your question. It’s not only worth giving up my freedom, but I have to do it to survive. Like I said, you’re in this life by yourself.
CELL MATE: Why does it have to be that way?
DEFENDANT: That’s what life’s all about.
CELL MATE: (dumbfounded) Living day to day, with no one to help you, no one to encourage you. Just fight ‘til death?
DEFENDANT: Yep. I’m not about to give control of any part of my life to some incompetent person or job.
CELL MATE: So, how is it that when I get the most “control” of my life it leads me to here?
DEFENDANT: It’s the price to pay for freedom.
CELL MATE: This isn’t living. This isn’t freedom.
DEFENDANT: (No answer)
CELL MATE: (quietly) I want freedom more than anything.
DEFENDANT: Only, a little while longer.
CELL MATE: (looking off into the distance) Yeah. (pause) Do you think it’s possible for someone to be committed to another human here on this earth? To be there for you, during everything you face in life.
DEFENDANT: I think that’s wishful thinking.
CELL MATE: Before I die I want to experience one moment of freedom.
DEFENDANT: What’s freedom to you?
CELL MATE: To live with meaning. Without constantly failing. Not having to face all my problems. Find love. Find hope, if it exists. (pause) Freedom to live in peace. (longingly) I want it so bad.
DEFENDANT: Don’t we all. We all suffer from having that mythical notion that somehow it’ll be all right. That something will happen to make us all better and then we’ll get to live everyday surrounded by happiness and contentment, but it doesn’t exist. Especially with guys like us.
CELL MATE: Why?
DEFENDANT: Because we’re selfish. We don’t deserve it.
CELL MATE: (resigns) That’s the thing that I always come back to. Always wishing it wasn’t true.
DEFENDANT: You come back to it because it is true. Face it. We’re living out the consequences of what we did. Life’s never going to be good or happy or wonderful for us. We don’t deserve it. Final
CELL MATE: (Turing away from Defendant) What do you know.
DEFENDANT: Enough to know that I’m not going to waste my life, what little I have left, wishing for some miracle to happen. Waiting for my “second chance” at life.
CELL MATE: So that’s it? Life’s over. Nothing more. We messed up, game over.
DEFENDANT: This whole thing called “life” is practically game over the moment we’re born.
(Pause. Both start to do their own things)
CELL MATE: If there’s no point, then why are we here? Why are we serving some sentence if it all means nothing? Why can’t we just do whatever and go on with life, without consequences?
DEFENENT: (resigned) I don’t know.
CELL MATE: I didn’t start off like this. All angry at the world.
DEFENDANT: What’s your story?
CELL MATE: I got stepped on, burned by friends, rejected by my family. I didn’t have a chance at living a normal life after my teen age years.
DEFENDANT: (nodding in agreement) I know it.
CELL MATE: What’s the use of always living by someone else’s ideals when you’ll never reach their unrealistic expectations. Then when you’ve worked your butt off trying to gain their respect, they’ll chew you up and spit you out. Leave you to the dogs. (pause) So I gave up. I figured there’s no hope. Everyone’s a born failure doomed to mess up.
DEFENDANT: (grinning wickedly) At least you messed up with style.
CELL MATE: (emotionless) I had no style. (pause) I’m not proud about what I’ve done.
DEFENDANT: But you said yourself. Guys like us never had a chance to live a normal life.
CELL MATE: Then how do some make it in this life?
DEFENDANT: What do you mean?
CELL MATE: How do people go on, in living this life? Living with a smile on their faces. (pause. Gets confused look on his face) It’s like they had some sort of hope for being here.
DEFENDANT: You’re talking about something that doesn’t exist.
CELL MATE: (angrily) Don’t tell me it doesn’t exist. I’ve seen it in others.
DEFENENT: (insulted) Sorry.
(pause. Both get back doing their own things.)
DEFENDANT: I don’t know why you’re upset. You get a chance to find (sarcastically) the “true meaning of life and happiness and hope” in just a short time.
CELL MATE: Stop reminding me.
DEFENDANT: (angrily) At least you get another chance at life. I’m condemned. My life is over how I once knew it. My future is this: A death display available for view, in front of countless bystanders. Be thankful you get another chance.
CELL MATE: You don’t get it, do you? Once you’ve been in here, it’s a death sentence. No matter what I do, what I’ve done will never be erased. My past won’t ever go away. My life will forever be a prison. I’m in bondage with the very thing that I thought would bring me freedom. And now, here I am wanting something more than I ever have wanted before in my life and it’s unattainable.
DEFENDANT: (confused) A happy life?
CELL MATE: No, a life of purpose, of hope. Something that will give my life meaning.
DEFENDANT: Stop dreaming.
CELL MATE: Don’t you want that?
DEFENDANT: I learned a long time ago that first; You can’t trust anyone ‘cause they’re no good. Second, dreams never come true. I wanted a good life too. I wanted to have a wife who loved me and respected me. I wanted a dad who actually told me I mattered to him to some degree. A friend who didn’t cheat me every time he was given the chance, because I was too naïve to think that people really were completely selfish. I wanted a good job which gave my life some sense of importance and satisfaction. But people fail you and life never goes the way you planned and hoped and wished. Then you finally give out what has been dished to you and what do you get? A death sentence. No second chances. And the way I look at it that death sentence has been over me ever since I was born. That purposeful, meaningful life where someone cares about you doesn’t exist.
CELL MATE: So, what you’re saying is you think it’s too late.
DEFENDANT: What’s too late?
CELL MATE: The chance to live.
(A GUARD ENTERS THE STAGE AND APPROACHES THE CELL. HE POINTS AT CELL MATE.)
GUARD: It’s time to come with me.
CELL MATE: (Looks at defendant) I guess this is it. Nice knowing ya’.
GUARD: (looking at defendant) You’re going to have to come with me as well.
GUARD: You’ve been released.
DEFENDANT: (Shocked) What?
GUARD: I have orders to let you go. Get up.
DEFENDANT: Why are you dong this?
GUARD: It’s not me. A man named Jesus of Nazareth is going to take your place. Hurry up Barrabus and get outta here. Why we’re letting a murderer out on the loose isn’t something I’d ever think of doing. You’re a lucky guy. (to cell mate) Come on. You’re time’s up.
(Lights out. During lights out you hear sounds of nails being pounded into wood. You hear scoffing shouts of “You’re the King of Jews?" "He saved others. Why can’t he save himself?" You hear the sound of the Guards’ voice that gave Barabus freedom. The Guard says “Want a drink? You thirsty? I’ll give you a drink." You hear water (vinegar) being thrown. Lights now come on. In the center of the stage is Jesus hanging from the cross. Two thieves are hanging beside Him. One on the left and the other on the right. The thief on stage left is the Cell Mate.)
THEIF: (angrily and weakly) Aren’t you the Christ? If you really are Him why don’t you save yourself and us?
CELL MATE: (angrily and weakly) Don’t speak to Him like that. Me and you deserve what we’re getting, but He’s innocent. He’s taking the punishment for something He didn’t do. (to Jesus) Please. I know it’s probably too late, but I want waht you have. I want to go with you when you die. To that place I heard others talking about.
JESUS: We’ll be together today in paradise, I promise. (Cell Mate looks down as Jesus says the words to him. He feels overwhelmed)
CELL MATE: (almost to tears. Slowly lifts his head to face Jesus.) Thank you (Turns to face the audience, bows his head and dies.)
VOICE OFF STAGE: “…when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly….God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6b&5:8
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